BILOXI, Miss. – August 21, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — In the last 10 years, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has obligated more than $159 million from Hurricane Katrina recovery to build community safe rooms throughout Mississippi to protect people during storms. HMGP provides grants to state, local and tribal governments to implement long-term mitigation measures to reduce the loss of life and property from a disaster.
Safe rooms can be built as multipurpose shelters to protect communities from tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. These community safe rooms are built to FEMA 361 specifications, which include hardening of walls and roofs to withstand 200 mph winds.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials have made the construction of safe rooms a priority since Katrina. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control found that safe rooms are the best option to reduce the number of deaths during tornadoes.
“We always tell folks to get out of mobile homes and manufactured homes, and to consider going to a more substantial structure to wait out the storm,” said Robert Latham, executive director of MEMA. “By providing a secure place for them to go, we make our communities safer. Citizens need to incorporate safe room locations into their plans, or know where a substantial structure is located.”
“In so many cases, the death toll would be much higher were it not for safe rooms for people to take shelter in,” said Acting Director of FEMA’s Mississippi Recovery Office, Loraine Hill.
To date, 42 public safe rooms have been added to schools; 34 have been built as stand-alone structures for general use, and 9 constructed for first responders. Populations served by these safe rooms include approximately 44,000 students and staff; 28,000 citizens in the general population, and 3,500 first responders.
During the threat of an outbreak of tornadoes in the state earlier this year, 70 residents sought shelter; in a community safe room in Rankin County, built to FEMA 361 standards.
Another $205 million in HMGP funding was made available to Mississippi for mitigation projects, such as elevating buildings, flood control, sirens, generators and grants to individuals to retrofit areas of their home or build stand-alone safe room units.
For more information on building a public safe room to FEMA 361 specifications, go to http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/3140.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.