Storm shelters in Pearl River County

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 23, 2018

Three emergency storm shelters are available for Pearl River County residents who need a safe place to ride out a major hurricane.

Emergency Management Agency Director Danny Manley said there are three emergency shelters spread across the county, one in Picayune at 501 Laurel St. on Picayune Memorial High School’s campus, one in Carriere at 7431 Hwy. 11 S. at the Pearl River Central High School campus and one at the Poplarville fairgrounds at 124 Rodeo St.

Manley said in the case of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, these shelters would provide citizens with a place to hide from the storm. Each shelter is 10,000 square feet, self-contained and can hold approximately 880 people, Manley said. Each has a backup power generator, air conditioning, restrooms and a small kitchen. He said food and bedding are not provided, so if people have to evacuate to a shelter, they should arrive prepared with their own pillows, blankets, toiletries and food.

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These storm shelters are not designed to provide long-term shelter. Rather, they are designed to allow people to ride out a storm until conditions are safe. Manley said people should be prepared to stay no more than about 12 hours. If another Hurricane Katrina level storm hits and causes catastrophic damage, the shelters can be converted to serve displaced citizens long-term, but unless that happens, they are primarily for short term safety.

The Poplarville shelter is maintained by the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, while the Picayune and Carriere shelters are maintained by the respective school districts. This way, in exchange for maintenance, the school districts can use those buildings for activities, events and as tornado shelters, Manley said.

Pearl River County School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said the storm shelter at the Pearl River Central campus is an asset since it is a large, open building. He said that during school hours the high school uses the building for P.E. classes. After school, the building is used for extra-curricular activities like dance team and cheerleading practice.

Lumpkin said the District is in charge of the shelter’s upkeep and employees perform any necessary maintenance and to keep the area clean.

Recently an incident occurred where someone shot one of the shelter’s windows. Lumpkin said it happened over the weekend, so whenever faculty arrived at the school on Monday morning, they noticed that there was a bullet hole in the glass. Lumpkin said campus police looked into the matter but were unable to ascertain who may have been responsible. He said the window has since been replaced with windproof grade glass.