On Tuesday, residents of George County will have two more places to seek safety in the event of an emergency. The George County Board of Supervisors will open the new storm shelters with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house at 10 a.m. at the Benndale Community Center.
George County began the construction of the Agricola and Benndale shelters two years ago. The project has a combined cost of $3.2 million which was completely covered by a FEMA grant. Officials say each shelter is about 3,800 square feet with 12 inch thick concrete walls that are able to withstand winds up to 200 mph. Each shelter will be able to house 139 people during a hurricane.
"The construction of these two shelters marks one of the largest public safety projects in the history of the Country," said Board President Kelly Wright, Beat 2.
"Obviously, we have run into major delays but these shelters are now ready for the protection of our residents."
Officials said that along with the strength of the structures, the location at the east and west sides of the county are also an asset.
"These shelters give residents on the edges of the County a much closer safety option," said Beat 5 Supervisor Henry Cochran.
"This has been a long time coming for the Benndale Community. This will be a building that will serve us in a wide variety of ways for years to come."
The shelters will be opened during emergencies by the County's Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and staffed by the Red Cross along with the Mississippi Department of Human Services. EMA Director Nancy describes the new shelters as a great way to improve the current "Sheltering Plan."
"These shelters are now our first and preferred option during an emergency," said Smith.
"They allow us to open a shelter and not lean so heavily on local schools. Our local partners at the Red Cross have already visited and inspected each location, so these shelters are officially ready for use."
Community leaders along with representatives from MEMA, DHS and the American Red Cross will be on hand at the ribbon cutting to display all of the items that a resident should bring with them to the shelter in the case of an emergency.
The Benndale Shelter is located on Highway 26 east of the Highway 57 intersection. The Agricola Shelter is located at the intersection of Highway 613 and Cooks Road. For more information about the shelters call 1-601-947-7506.