MORE TORNADOES CONFIRMED, SAFE ROOMS SAVE LIVES

PEARL – The National Weather Service in Jackson has confirmed at least seven tornadoes touched down in the state with surveys still ongoing.

  • Covington County: two EF-1 tornadoes.
  • Lauderdale County: one EF-1 tornado.
  • Lawrence County: one EF-0 tornado.
  • Lowndes County: one EF-0 tornado.
  • Jasper County: one EF-2 tornado.
  • Newton County: one EF-1 tornado.

Despite 12 homes being destroyed or suffering major damage, there were no injuries reported anywhere in the state. Several counties opened safe rooms during the storms that moved through the state on Saturday.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has invested nearly $200 Million in 82 safe rooms around the state for citizens and first responders to take shelter during severe weather. The funding is through the FEMA Hazard Mitigation program. Two counties in particular, Copiah and Rankin, opened their 361 safe rooms during the storms last Saturday.

“We always tell folks to get out of mobile homes and manufactured homes, and to consider going to a more substantial structure to wait out the storm,” said MEMA Executive Director Robert Latham. “Citizens need to incorporate the safe room locations into their plans, or know where a substantial structure is located. I commend Copiah and Rankin counties for opening their safe rooms last week.”

On Saturday, Rankin County Sheriff Brian Bailey opened the 361 safe room in Brandon. More than 70 citizens went to the safe room to seek shelter from the storms. The new safe room in Copiah County was also opened by Copiah County Emergency management Director Randle Drane.

“The Copiah County safe room will be open when the NWS deems that there is an elevated risk of severe weather coming through the county,” said Drane. “It is open to the public, so anyone that doesn’t feel safe in their home is more than welcome to take shelter at the safe room.”

There are a total of 82 safe rooms built (or under construction) to FEMA 361 standards in Mississippi. There are 40 at schools, 30 for general use and 12 for first responders. Several more are pending FEMA review to be built.

  • Adams: One safe room under construction.
  • Coahoma: One safe room under construction.
  • Copiah: One safe room completed.
  • Desoto: Six safe rooms under construction.
  • Forrest: One safe room completed.
  • George: Two safe rooms completed.
  • Hancock: Seven safe rooms completed and two under construction.
  • Harrison: 10 safe rooms completed and one under construction.
  • Itawamba: One safe room under construction.
  • Jackson: Five safe rooms completed.
  • Jones: One safe room completed.
  • Lafayette: One safe room under construction.
  • Lamar: One safe room completed.
  • Lauderdale: One safe room under construction.
  • Lee: Two safe rooms under construction.
  • Lincoln: One safe room completed.
  • Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians: One safe room under construction.
  • Monroe: One safe room completed and three under construction.
  • Neshoba: One safe room completed.
  • Oktibbeha: One safe room under construction.
  • Pearl River: Three safe rooms completed.
  • Pike: One safe room completed.
  • Pontotoc: Two safe rooms under construction.
  • Rankin: One safe room completed and one under construction.
  • Stone: Five safe rooms completed and one under construction.
  • Tate: One safe room under construction.
  • Tunica: One safe room under construction.
  • Wayne: 12 safe rooms completed.
  • Winston: One safe room under construction.
  • Yalobusha: One safe room under construction.

These safe rooms are managed by local governments. For the exact location of these safe rooms, contact the county emergency manager for each county. For a list of contact numbers for each county, visit www.msema.org/local-ema.

FEMA 361 standards are above code requirements, including back-up water systems, power systems and structural integrity to withstand winds of at least 200 mph.

While funding is no longer available for individual safe room grants in Mississippi, MEMA encourages the public to make personal investments in a safe room for their home. The NWS Survey Teams found several people that survived Saturday’s storms by taking shelter in a safe room on their property.

For more information, go to MEMA’s website at www.msema.org, or download the MEMA mobile app on your iOS or Android device.

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