Copiah County dedicates Joe L. Johnson Safe Room - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Copiah County dedicates Joe L. Johnson Safe Room

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COPIAH COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Hurricane Katrina produced many lessons for Mississippians. One of them: the state has inadequate facilities to house evacuees escaping from a massive weather event.

Copiah County will now be ready, with a new $3.5 million community safe room, just north of Gallman Road. During the ribbon cutting Friday, County Supervisors told us the County only had to put up five percent of the costs for the Joe L. Johnson Safe Room.

"But we added a lot of features, the kitchen, these tables, the parking lot area, that was not part of the grant. So we probably put about $300,000 into a $3.5M building," says Jimmy Phillips, President of the Board of Supervisors.

The safe room can withstand 200 mile per hour winds, and can hold more than 900 people. During calmer weather, citizens can use it for receptions and other events.

Congressman Bennie Thompson says $150 million in grants was made available for safe rooms across Mississippi, but not all counties applied.

"They pretty much get a brand new building," he says. "It's a wonderful facility, and we're glad the Board of Supervisors saw the leadership to apply for the money. It's nice to work with people with vision."

The safe room will also provide the perfect shelter for people in neighboring Claiborne County, in the event of an emergency at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant.

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