Supervisors: More Storm Shelters Will Open

The Harrison County Supervisors want to know why buildings that have always opened as shelters, like D'Iberville High School and the Good Deeds Community Center, are suddenly off limits by the Red Cross.

"I do believe that Good Deeds Center should be approved as a Red Cross shelter and once we review this information we should be able to get that changed I would hope," says District 2 Supervisor, William Martin.

Supervisor Bobby Eleuterius also wants changes in D'Iberville. There are no shelters in that city.

Citizens rode out Hurricane Camille in the high school, but it's no longer approved as a shelter by the Red Cross. Eleuterius says that's a problem because not everyone can squeeze into schools in Biloxi or Woolmarket.

"The school can only hold maybe 2000 people. So how can we tell all these people to go up to Woolmarket Elementary when we have 7500 people we're trying to put in that one facility?," Eleuterius asks.

The Red Cross judges a building to be a safe shelter based on storm surge, wind damage and flooding from other hurricanes. Red Cross director Oscar Barnes admits local chapters haven't always followed the rules and the national office is taking notice.

"Through some other episodes that happened in Hurricane Hugo and other areas, the Red Cross is getting more stringent with those rules," Barnes says.

The supervisors will work with the Red Cross to ease restrictions. Meanwhile, they want a master list of city and county shelters from EOC Interim Director John Edwards.

"And from that list, you can determine which ones are already Red Cross approved. And the ones that aren't, we know we're going to open them anyway and we can start working on getting them approved," Martin says.

A task force made up of county representatives, the EOC, school superintendents and the Red Cross will get together to inspect buildings. That way they all come up with the same evaluation as to whether they can open as shelters.