BILOXI, Miss. -- The recent outbreak of severe weather in the state underscores the role storm shelters can play in community safety. As a result of Hurricane Katrina, more than 40 shelter projects are slated for or are in progress in the state with 29 on tap for the Coast.
Many of the projects come through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and are funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and administered by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). The partnership has yielded state-of the art shelters that were completed at West Harrison and D’Iberville high schools and most recently, the newly opened Fountainebleau Emergency Shelter and Community Center in Jackson County.
The $584,786 Fountainebleau project, which will also be used on a daily basis as a community center, will protect about 400 people up to 36 hours during a hurricane or other severe weather event and was built to withstand winds up to 200 mph.
Additional shelters are making it off the drawing board.
This week, the Wayne County School District, located several counties north of the Coast, breaks ground on 12 tornado shelters at eight school campuses. These shelters will house up to 5,200 students and faculty from six to eight hours during a tornado or other violent weather.
The following is a summary of both FEMA Individual and Public assistance provided in the Mississippi recovery efforts from Aug. 29, 2005 through April 30, 2010:
Assisting Individuals and Families
- FEMA has provided more than $1.3 billion to help families and individuals meet some of their basic needs following Katrina. More than 44,000 families received temporary housing assistance.
- As of April 30, 2010 only 236 temporary housing units remained occupied in Mississippi – more than 99 percent of the families who once occupied FEMA temporary housing units have moved into their repaired or rebuilt homes or into more permanent housing.
- More than 126,000 families in Mississippi have received rental assistance funds.
Some 2,830 Mississippi families moved from FEMA temporary housing to Mississippi Cottages. About 1,013 cottages are currently occupied. The Mississippi Cottages were developed through the Mississippi Alternative Housing Program, which is administered by MEMA and funded by a $280 million federal grant. The temporary housing portion of the program ended Jan. 31 2009. The program is in the process of converting units for permanent use to residents who remain in need. For more information about the program, visit www.mscottage.com.
Rebuilding Mississippi Infrastructure
- Nearly 900 state and local governments have applied for FEMA Public Assistance.
- More than $3.1 billion in FEMA Public Assistance funds has been obligated to rebuild infrastructure in Mississippi. Some of this grant money includes:
- More than $647 million for the restoration of public buildings;
- Nearly $894 million for public utilities;
- More than $183 million for public recreational facilities;
- About $92 million for roads and bridges
MEMA administers PA funds. To date, MEMA has disbursed nearly $2.1 billion to Hurricane Katrina PA applicants for debris removal and rebuilding projects including bridges, public buildings and utilities.
Preparing for future disasters today
- FEMA has obligated more than $186 million for 287 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) projects across the state.
- More than $77 million was approved for shelters to protect approximately 33,613 residents and first responders – with more on the way.
- A total of $293 million has been allocat...