County opens safe room as shelter from freezing temps

Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2018


NATCHEZ — The Adams County Safe Room is now temporarily open as a shelter after county supervisors approved an emergency declaration amid frigid weather conditions.

Supervisors moved to open the shelter during a weather update by Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford at Tuesday’s regular board of supervisors meeting.

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District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray asked what refuge the homeless could seek during the hard freeze, and Bradford responded that Zion Chapel would be open to those individuals in need.

District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus questioned why the safe room could not serve that purpose, which officials have discussed frequently over the past week.

“Sometimes I might skip the rules,” Lazarus said. “I believe in playing by the rules, but sometimes my common sense takes over.”

Bradford reiterated that the safe room is not equivalent to a shelter, and the only way to open the safe room as such required a declaration from the supervisors.

When supervisors proposed only opening the safe room for certain hours, Bradford stressed that opening the facility as a shelter would require keeping it open at all times until the cold weather subsides..

District 2 Supervisor David Carter said the board at least should give the homeless an opportunity to seek shelter, even if people choose not to take advantage of that opportunity.

“How irresponsible does it look to have just spent ($3 million) on a shelter, and somebody dies 200 yards away from it,” Carter said.

Carter motioned for the declaration, and after a brief discussion, the board decided to open the safe room through the end of Friday evening, which the National Weather Service’s hard freeze warning for the area was scheduled to end.

The motion carried unanimously.

Later in the meeting, Bradford told the supervisors about his department’s plan to establish a permanent homeless shelter in the county. Bradford invited anyone on the board to join his committee that will handle the process of establishing the shelter. Gray, Lazarus and District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins volunteered to be on the committee.

Bradford added that people who have lost heating in their homes, experienced a power outage, or other types of emergency situations could contact Emergency Management to seek assistance. The department can be reached at 601-442-7021.

As for security, which officials also discussed, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said his deputies would help out.

“Don’t worry about hiring security in there … we’re going to do our part,” Patten said.

The safe room opened at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.