Civil defense awaits details on ‘safe rooms’

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 16, 2006

MEMA and federal officials announced Monday that $6.6 millionhas been made available to help protect Mississippians againsttornadoes. Details of the program, though, have not made it toGaley’s office.

“I don’t have any information on it,” said Lincoln County CivilDefense Director Clifford Galey. “I can’t help anyone rightnow.”

The program, “A Safe Place To Go,” will reimburse up to 75percent of eligible costs to property owners for the constructionof safe rooms or storm shelters to protect against the dangersposed by extreme winds.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Lathamannounced the new funding last week and has been telling people tocontact their local civil defense to enroll in the program. MEMApress releases also advise calling the county emergency managementoffice.

“That would be great, but I don’t have anything on it,” Galeysaid. “I have received more than 100 calls about this, and somepeople have been rather upset when I tell them I can’t helpthem.”

In the meantime, Galey said, he has started a waiting list andhas placed more than 50 names on it.

A waiting list is precisely what MEMA said it is asking civildefense offices to do, said Ashley Roth, a MEMA spokesperson.

“We have been notified we are receiving these funds, but we donot have them yet,” she said.

Galey is asking people to hold off on notifying his office oftheir interest until the application forms become available. Hesaid when the applications for the program become available, hewill hold a meeting to make people aware of the program and to takeapplications at that time.

Those already on the waiting list will be contacted and themedia will be notified with the meeting schedule, Galey said.

The “safe room” program was established in 2001 after a seriesof tornadoes ripped through the state, killing eight people andinjuring more than 100 others. Since its inception, more than 2,100residential and 180 group shelters have been built in the state andmore than $4.5 million has been provided to support the project,according to a MEMA press release.

A Lincoln County official says don’t call him yet aboutparticipating in a program to provide grants to people to install”safe rooms” against natural disasters.

MEMA and federal officials announced Monday that $6.6 millionhas been made available to help protect Mississippians againsttornadoes. Details of the program, though, have not made it toGaley’s office.

“I don’t have any information on it,” said Lincoln County CivilDefense Director Clifford Galey. “I can’t help anyone rightnow.”

The program, “A Safe Place To Go,” will reimburse up to 75percent of eligible costs to property owners for the constructionof safe rooms or storm shelters to protect against the dangersposed by extreme winds.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Lathamannounced the new funding last week and has been telling people tocontact their local civil defense to enroll in the program. MEMApress releases also advise calling the county emergency managementoffice.

“That would be great, but I don’t have anything on it,” Galeysaid. “I have received more than 100 calls about this, and somepeople have been rather upset when I tell them I can’t helpthem.”

In the meantime, Galey said, he has started a waiting list andhas placed more than 50 names on it.

A waiting list is precisely what MEMA said it is asking civildefense offices to do, said Ashley Roth, a MEMA spokesperson.

“We have been notified we are receiving these funds, but we donot have them yet,” she said.

Galey is asking people to hold off on notifying his office oftheir interest until the application forms become available. Hesaid when the applications for the program become available, hewill hold a meeting to make people aware of the program and to takeapplications at that time.

Those already on the waiting list will be contacted and themedia will be notified with the meeting schedule, Galey said.

The “safe room” program was established in 2001 after a seriesof tornadoes ripped through the state, killing eight people andinjuring more than 100 others. Since its inception, more than 2,100residential and 180 group shelters have been built in the state andmore than $4.5 million has been provided to support the project,according to a MEMA press release.

Civil defense directors should already know of the program, Rothsaid, because it is not new.

What is new, she said, is the amount of the funding. This year’s$6.6 million appropriation easily eclipses the total of $4.6million that has been put into the program since 2001.

Application forms will be sent to civil defense directors toaccess the $6.6 million when funding becomes available for use,Roth said.

The maximum federal share awarded to any eligible participant inthe program is $3,500 for residential structures and $5,000 forcommunity shelters.

“Safe rooms” are created by taking an above-ground safe room andanchoring it to the ground to prevent damage from extreme highwinds. The rooms are then strengthened with steel-reinforcedconcrete or steel sheathing to make the walls and ceiling virtuallypuncture-proof.

Mississippi averages 24 tornadoes a year and ranks second in thenation in tornado-related fatalities and injuries, according to aMEMA press release.

A Lincoln County official says don’t call him yet aboutparticipating in a program to provide grants to people to install”safe rooms” against natural disasters.

MEMA and federal officials announced Monday that $6.6 millionhas been made available to help protect Mississippians againsttornadoes. Details of the program, though, have not made it toGaley’s office.

“I don’t have any information on it,” said Lincoln County CivilDefense Director Clifford Galey. “I can’t help anyone rightnow.”

The program, “A Safe Place To Go,” will reimburse up to 75percent of eligible costs to property owners for the constructionof safe rooms or storm shelters to protect against the dangersposed by extreme winds.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Lathamannounced the new funding last week and has been telling people tocontact their local civil defense to enroll in the program. MEMApress releases also advise calling the county emergency managementoffice.

“That would be great, but I don’t have anything on it,” Galeysaid. “I have received more than 100 calls about this, and somepeople have been rather upset when I tell them I can’t helpthem.”

In the meantime, Galey said, he has started a waiting list andhas placed more than 50 names on it.

A waiting list is precisely what MEMA said it is asking civildefense offices to do, said Ashley Roth, a MEMA spokesperson.

“We have been notified we are receiving these funds, but we donot have them yet,” she said.

Galey is asking people to hold off on notifying his office oftheir interest until the application forms become available. Hesaid when the applications for the program become available, hewill hold a meeting to make people aware of the program and to takeapplications at that time.

Those already on the waiting list will be contacted and themedia will be notified with the meeting schedule, Galey said.

The “safe room” program was established in 2001 after a seriesof tornadoes ripped through the state, killing eight people andinjuring more than 100 others. Since its inception, more than 2,100residential and 180 group shelters have been built in the state andmore than $4.5 million has been provided to support the project,according to a MEMA press release.

Civil defense directors should already know of the program, Rothsaid, because it is not new.

What is new, she said, is the amount of the funding. This year’s$6.6 million appropriation easily eclipses the total of $4.6million that has been put into the program since 2001.

Application forms will be sent to civil defense directors toaccess the $6.6 million when funding becomes available for use,Roth said.

The maximum federal share awarded to any eligible participant inthe program is $3,500 for residential structures and $5,000 forcommunity shelters.

“Safe rooms” are created by taking an above-ground safe room andanchoring it to the ground to prevent damage from extreme highwinds. The rooms are then strengthened with steel-reinforcedconcrete or steel sheathing to make the walls and ceiling virtuallypuncture-proof.

Mississippi averages 24 tornadoes a year and ranks second in thenation in tornado-related fatalities and injuries, according to aMEMA press release.