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Just in Time for Bad Weather, New Storm Shelter is Open

NATCHEZ, Miss. – Adams County’s new storm shelter is ready for the forecasted bad weather today as the $3.5 million officially opens for evacuees. By John Mott Coffey 

The county Board of Supervisors got the word Monday that the building is finished. The construction contractor completed its work last week, said county Emergency Management Director Brad Bradford, who got the board Monday to officially declare it open.

The fortress-like building at Liberty Park is equipped to protect people from tornados or other weather threats. It is for short-term evacuations and not long-term stays of more than a day, Bradford said.

Weather forecasters say Adams County is at risk today for severe thunderstorms and damaging winds.

The Adams County Louis Gunning Community Saferoom will be formally dedicated Nov. 30. It’s named after the long-time director of the Natchez Community Stewpot who died in May. Gunning ran the food pantry for 24 years.

Construction of the storm shelter began last year with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The building is mostly one banquet-size room with restrooms, a medical-care room and storage areas on the side.

While owned by the county, the Natchez-Adams school system will help maintain the storm shelter. It’s adjacent the Natchez High School campus. When not used for storm evacuees, the building will be available for school activities and other community events, supervisors said.

Bradford said rent could be charged for its use to help generate revenues to help offset maintenance expenses, but regulations don’t allow the county to net a profit from this. County supervisors said they need to formulate specific policies for its miscellaneous uses aside from being a storm shelter. “That’s going to have to be figured out,” said county board President Darryl Grennell.

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