Backup power installed at Red Cross sheltersPublished 12:08am Saturday, July 28, 2012
NATCHEZ — After nearly five years in the works, Adams County is prepared to close out its emergency shelter upgrade project.
At the heart of the project was the installation of three powerful generators in the county’s Red Cross-certified storm shelters, at Community Chapel Church of God, Parkway Baptist Church and the Steckler Building near Natchez High School.
The county purchased the generators and was later reimbursed for them with post-Hurricane Katrina hazard mitigation grant funds allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But the cost of hooking up the generators was not included in that initial reimbursement, and earlier this year, the county came close to passing a key deadline that would have paid for the hook-ups.
The deadline to complete the hookups and still be eligible for reimbursement was extended until July 31, and Adams County Emergency Director Stan Owens said the work has been completed, and FEMA officials have reviewed the sites.
“We have most of the paperwork ready for submission,” Owens said.
“The generators are 100-percent ready and operational.”
The county had to pay the $210,094 cost of the hookups upfront, though $100,000 of that came from Emergency Management’s budget for the project. The FEMA reimbursement will come within 30 to 45 days of the submission of finalized documents, Owens said.
“The money is sitting there waiting for us to submit the correct paperwork,” he said.
Community Chapel Church of God Pastor Bo Swilley said he believes the newly installed generator at the church’s shelter will definitely enhance the shelter’s function.
The Community Chapel shelter has a sewer lift station nearby, and if the power is out, the lift station doesn’t work, meaning that those in the shelter will have to move into a different part of the building that is less conducive to meeting their needs.
But having electricity also helps soothe people’s already frayed nerves, Swilley said.
“They are afraid, and there is something about having lights and air (conditioning) and water that really helps,” he said.
“Whenever somebody comes to a place and they have lights and nobody else has lights, it just kind of kills some hurts. The generators are very important for those aspects, not just sanitation.”