Wicker, Hyde-Smith, & Palazzo Announce Forrest County Safe Room Funding

FEMA Approves More Than $1 Million for Hattiesburg-Area Safe Room

April 18, 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Cindy Hyde Smith, R-Miss., and Congressman Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., today announced a $1 million grant to construct a community safe room at the Forrest County Agricultural High School in Brooklyn.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the Hazard Mitigation grant to construct the 5,000-square-foot safe room on Old Highway 49 in Forrest County. The facility will be designed to shelter 835 people within a half-mile radius.

“I am pleased FEMA has recognized Forrest County’s continuing investments in storm safety since Hurricane Katrina,” Wicker said. “This grant will mean hundreds more Mississippians can seek refuge from our state’s unpredictable and sometimes dangerous weather, including the recent series of tornadoes that have come through the region.”

“Leaders in Forrest County are determined to provide protection for residents through FEMA safe rooms.  Once completed, the safe room at the Forrest County Agricultural High School will provide students and area residents a safe place during weather emergencies,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Hazardous weather poses unique challenges for rural communities like many throughout our state.  I am grateful to FEMA for supporting funding for this and other safe room projects in Mississippi.”

“The Pine Belt is no stranger to severe weather conditions, unfortunately,” Palazzo said. We may not be able to control the weather, but we can provide our citizens with adequate protection in the face of these events. This grant is a result of federal, state, and local entities working together to ensure Mississippians have adequate protection when our communities face hazardous conditions.”

The project, which is expected to cost $1.23 million overall and have more than 3,500 square feet of usable space, will be built to withstand winds of 250 mph.  In June 2015, FEMA awarded $85,050 for planning and design work on the project.

In January, lawmakers announced a similar $1 million grant to construct a 5,000-square-foot safe room at the Dixie Attendance Center on Elks Lake Road in Forrest County.

The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides funding to states and local governments for long-term hazard mitigation activities designed to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters.  Data shows that investments in hazard mitigation before a disaster create a net savings of taxpayer dollars during post-disaster response and recovery periods.