A new regional medical needs emergency shelter is being built in Wiggins. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, the $7.7 million dollar facility is expected to be open for the 2016 hurricane season.
Jim Craig, director of health protection at the state department of health, says after Hurricane Katrina, the health department partnered with community colleges to create additional medical needs shelters.
But, Craig says, many of the buildings on the coast weren’t rated for stronger storms. They needed a location that could meet category 3, 4 and 5 storms.
"This shelter in Stone County is being built to withstand 200 mile per hour winds," he says. "In fact, the envelope of the shelter - or the core of the shelter - is designed so that if you took a 15 pound two-by-four, and it moved at 100 miles per hour, it would not penetrate any part of this shelter, making it a really safe refuge for people with medical needs in Mississippi."
Harrison County Emergency management director Rupert Lacy says the shelter is good news for the coast. For one thing, it mean people with medical needs won’t have to travel as far during storms. During hurricane Gustav in 2008, he says, some people with medical needs had to be transported all the way to Jackson.
The shelter will also be the first in the nation to have a negative-pressure infectious disease isolation room.