‘Safe Room’ meeting set for Feb. 9

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

A Brookhaven official said a presentation for Lincoln Countyresidents interested in participating in the federal “Safe Room”program will be held Feb. 9 at the county’s multi-use facility.

“Anyone interested in filing an application for a storm sheltershould attend this meeting so they’ll know how to go about it,”said Lincoln County Emergency Management Director CliffordGaley.

The Feb. 9 meeting will outline the program and the steps neededto apply, he said. Application forms will be available.

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“It’s really important that if they’re interested in the programthey attend the meeting because it’ll be hard to catch up witheveryone afterward,” Galey said.

The program, “A Safe Place To Go,” will reimburse propertyowners up to 75 percent of eligible costs for the construction ofsafe rooms or storm shelters to protect against the dangers posedby extreme winds. The maximum federal share awarded to any eligibleparticipant in the program is $3,500 for residential structures and$5,000 for community shelters.

“It will depend on how many apply statewide as to how much weget to spend here,” Galey said.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and federalofficials announced in mid-January that $6.6 million has been madeavailable to protect Mississippians against tornadoes and otherstorms. This year’s $6.6 million appropriation easily eclipses thetotal of $4.6 million that has been put into the program since itsinception in 2001.

Galey said he was swamped with calls from people wanting toparticipate in the plan after the announcement, but he was unableto help them because the state had not sent him the necessarypaperwork. He started a call-back list, but now asks those whocalled to attend the meeting.

“It’s not going to be feasible for me to call them all back,” hesaid, noting more than 200 names were placed on the list.

Galey also said those who expressed interest in the programthrough the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster ReliefCenter should also attend the meeting since the DRC will no longerbe able to assist them. Brookhaven’s FEMA DRC permanently closedits doors Jan. 28.

A March 1 deadline has been set for all applications to besubmitted to the state, he said.

“Safe rooms” are created by taking an above-ground room andanchoring it to the ground to prevent damage from extreme highwinds. They are then strengthened with steel-reinforced concrete orsteel 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.