County Safe Room not open for freeze

Published 12:03 am Friday, January 5, 2018


NATCHEZ — When temperatures dropped into the teens at the beginning of the New Year, local churches and charities opened their doors to the homeless.

Doors to the Adams County Safe Room, however, remained closed.

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Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said the Adams County Safe Room is not equipped to house people in such cases as a hard freeze.

“In the case of a tornado warning or watch, it’s over in a few hours,” Bradford said. “With something like this, though, it is just not designed to house people long-term.”

Bradford said the safe room has no showers or stoves, meaning people staying there could not have hot meals while they stayed.

Had a state of emergency been declared for Natchez or Adams County, Bradford said he could have gotten state funds to provide amenities to the homeless population, but as the conditions did not reach emergency levels, the county would have had to foot all the costs alone.

“The weather, it was bad, but it’s on a different level than a tornado,” he said. “Tornadoes don’t last three or four days.”

A second problem keeping Bradford from opening the safe room: A lack of volunteers.

“We cannot just go open the doors and leave,” Bradford said. “When you turn the key, you have to be sure you have someone there watching.”

Operating a shelter, Bradford said, is more complicated than simply opening doors.

“It takes a lot of consideration and I commend the churches that opened their doors during this weather,” he said.

In the future, Bradford said he hopes to open a permanent shelter can be opened.

“What I’m working on is building a city and county team of people who can find a building and some grants to make a permanent shelter,” Bradford said. “At the end of the day, we want to help. We just need to establish a location so they know where to go.”

Bradford told the Adams County Board of Supervisors in their meeting Tuesday about the difficulties in opening the safe room.

Supervisor Angela Hutchins of District 3 said she volunteered all of her fellow supervisors to work at the shelter in the next instance of an emergency.

District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray said he, too, supported a permanent shelter.

“A friend of mine dreamed we had a homeless shelter about 10 years ago,” Gray said.  “She said the Lord told her we’d get a homeless shelter. I hope her dream comes true.”