Hattiesburg will soon have a safe place for area residents in times of severe weather thanks to federal grant money.
U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker along with Congressman Steven Palazzo announced a $1.0 million grant to construct a stand-alone community safe room just outside Hattiesburg.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the Hazard Mitigation grant to construct the 5,000-square-foot safe room at the Dixie Attendance Center in Forrest County. The facility will be designed to shelter 750 people within a half-mile radius during emergency situations.
The shelter will be designed to withstand winds of up to 250 mph. After a tornado damaged the area a year ago, Palazzo knows how important a structure like this can be to the community.
“After witnessing the devastation caused by the tornadoes in Hattiesburg a year ago, I am glad to see FEMA is working with Forrest County to take proactive steps to protect Mississippians. This is an example of a great federal investment that will save lives during future severe weather events,” Palazzo said.
Cochran and Wicker echoed Palazzo statement, and all three agree on the significance of bringing this type of development to the area.
“Safe room construction throughout Mississippi is part of a broad effort to provide shelter during severe weather, like the deadly tornadoes that hit Hattiesburg a year ago,” Cochran said. “FEMA is working with Forrest County to construct a facility to protect hundreds of people, and I commend this federal investment in the Pine Belt.”
“In communities all across Mississippi, local governments are investing in storm shelters to protect their citizens from dangerous weather,” Wicker said. “As the Hattiesburg area continues to recover from last year’s devastating tornadoes, I am pleased FEMA will be contributing to this project that will help protect residents for years to come.”
A media release stated that the project will cost $1.18 in total and that data shows that investments in hazard mitigation before a disaster creates a net savings of taxpayer dollars during post-disaster response and recovery periods.