Federal funds support safe rooms in Forrest

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Congressman Steven Palazzo announced the award of just over $1 million in federal funding to build two more safe rooms in Forrest County.

The new safe rooms would complete the goal of constructing 10 safe rooms at schools around Forrest County.  The new safe rooms will be constructed to meet FEMA 361 stand-alone safe room guidelines to withstand 200 mph winds and provide protection during tornado and hurricane events.  The overall cost of these projects is estimated to be $1.24 million.

“The projects announced today will be an important addition to Forrest County’s existing storm shelters,” Wicker said.  “These structures will provide safe havens from inclement weather for years to come.”

“This grant funding will allow Forrest County to have a full complement of safe rooms to save lives,” Hyde-Smith said.  “I look forward to seeing construction of these new facilities and progress made on the safe rooms already funded by FEMA in this area.”

“Providing important mitigation measures is a goal that we’ve been working to achieve for years. I am glad to see Forrest County receive this important funding that will provide long-lasting protection for local residents,” Palazzo said.

The new safe rooms will be built at the Rawl Springs Attendance Center in Hattiesburg and the Petal Upper Elementary School in Petal.

Overall, FEMA is providing $9.1 million to construct the 10 safe rooms in Forrest County, with FEMA paying almost 85 percent of the cost.  In November 2015, FEMA provided $652,000 to support preliminary work on these safe rooms, and awarded $7.38 million last July for eight safe rooms.

The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides funding to states and local governments for long-term hazard mitigation activities designed to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters.

Data shows that investments in hazard mitigation before a disaster create a net savings of taxpayer dollars during post-disaster response and recovery periods.