Construction of shelter could begin soonPublished 12:06am Monday, June 4, 2012
NATCHEZ — The preliminary plans for what will be Adams County’s hurricane super shelter are complete.lifted
That means construction on the FEMA 361 shelter near Natchez High School could begin August, Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said.
“We met with the architects a week ago, and he gave us some preliminary drawings and floor plans to really start scratching around with so we can end up with a final result,” Owens said.
“It will have to go to bids once we have the architectural and engineering designs in hand, but I would like to see us schedule sometime in the fall turning some dirt.”
The idea for the $3.25 million FEMA 361 hurricane shelter, which will be able to withstand the equivalent of an F5 tornado and be self-sufficient for 72 hours, was first floated in 2009. It was subsequently approved, and now the Natchez-Adams County School Board has passed a resolution to transfer a tract of land near the Steckler Building to the county for the construction.
Wednesday Adams County Board Attorney Scott Slover received permission from the board of supervisors to draft a deed for the county to receive the land from the school district.
In addition to the deed, Slover said he may need to draft a document specifying how the land will be used.
“Depending on the school board’s prerogative, they may want some kind of provision saying that we will use the land for what we said we would,” Slover said. “Like the county, the school district can’t give away property for just anything.”
Most of the funding for the project comes from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, but the county is required to provide a $162,000 match for the project.
The county is aiming to make its portion of the match with in-kind contributions, and that’s why it is important for the county to own the land on which the shelter will be built.
“We are trying our best to 100 percent in-kind match the $162,000,” Owens said.
“We have already got the land approved at $100,000 in-kind, so I am sure the rest of that in-kind will involve the county doing dirt work and preparation of the site.”
The preliminary plans show a 10,000-square-foot building with bathrooms, a kitchen area and equipment rooms to house a generator and electrical equipment.
“Most of it will be a big, open space, and it will have eight columns in it because of the 250-mile-per-hour winds it will have to withstand,” Owens said.
While the federal funding does not allow the county to install showers and kitchen appliances in the building, Owens said the restrictions do not bar the county from installing the necessary plumbing and electrical infrastructure for those things, and the school district can install them if it so chooses.
The federal funding requires that the shelter be located on county property, and Owens said the cost of maintaining the facility would fall on the school district, which would have free access to the building except in the event of a hurricane, tornado or other evacuation event.
That’s in part to keep everything in good working order.
“They will be able to use it for (school) functions or anything like that they deem necessary,” Owens said.
“With a building like that, you are going to have to go in and exercise the building; flush the toilets, unlock and lock the doors and make sure it is operational in the case of an emergency. (FEMA) is not going to build us a building just for it to sit there.”
The building is meant to be a temporary rather than long-term shelter, and previously Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said it could be used to house Adams County residents when the supervisors issue a mandatory evacuation of county mobile homes during storm events.