Safety finds home in shelter

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NATCHEZ — Thursday will mark the official ground breaking for the building Adams County officials say will stand against hurricanes, tornados and straight-line winds like they are little more than a spring zephyr.

After nearly seven years of proposals, funding questions, planning, bidding and value engineering, Adams County officials will break ground on the FEMA 361 storm shelter meant to withstand the force of an EF5 tornado.

The groundbreaking will be 10 a.m. Thursday near the Steckler Building at the Natchez High School campus.

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“It feels great for me to see that we are moving forward with this shelter,” Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said. “We have been working on it for quite a while now.”

Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said work has already begun ahead of the official groundbreaking, with county crews removing asphalt and outdated electrical infrastructure from the area.

“It has been a long time coming, but we are in construction right now,” he said.

The original proposal for the shelter was put forward under former Adams County Emergency Management Director George Souderes in 2008, when the federal government released money to build storm shelters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency originally funded the shelter at $3.25 million. Local delays because of funding concerns pushed the start of the project to the end of when federal funding would be available. When