FEMA administrator visits West Harrison High

FEMA administrator visits West Harrison High

FEMA administrator, Craig Fugate says the biggest lesson from Katrina is time management.

Wednesday morning, the FEMA boss visited one of the newest storm shelters at West Harrison High school. Fugate, met with school officials and community leaders; and spoke about the Katrina experience and lessons learned.

Fugate stressed the critical role of schools serving as storm shelters and the importance of getting kids back in school, after a disaster.

"It's the first thing of normalcy to know that the schools are reopening. That really I think triggered this thought that we are coming back, we are going to recover," Fugate added.

FEMA spent more than $8 million toward the construction of West Harrison High. It is one of 42  safe rooms in the state of Mississippi. A large portion of the first and second floors can be used as a hurricane shelter, accommodating up to 2,500 people and withstanding winds of 200 miles an hour.

"What we're trying to do is build back to future risk, not just the way it was. And so much of our regulations were constrained around only replacing what was damaged, the way it was," Fugate noted.

Fugate says FEMA and MEMA are better prepared, with both physical structures and improved strategies for hastening storm response efforts.

"We were opening shelters, literally opening all of these school shelters," school superintendent Henry Arledge said.

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