WIGGINS, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi health officials expect to open in 2016 the state’s first stand-alone medical needs shelter.
Ground was broken on the shelter earlier this month. The $7.7 million facility will be located in Wiggins.
“We chose Wiggins because it’s just down (U.S.) 49, so (people) could travel up 49. A lot of times our medical evacuees would be trying to get to Jackson,” Jim Craig, state Department of Health director of health protection, told The Hattiesburg American.
The 23,416-square-foot shelter will provide a place to stay in an emergency for people with medical needs exceeding what can be offered in a general population shelter. It is self-sustaining for 36 hours, with a backup power source and sewer and water connections.
Greg Flynn, spokesman for Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said currently community colleges around the state offer shelter to residents with medical needs.
“They would bring in nurses and external equipment and have to set that up — modify some rooms so they could accommodate people who were coming in,” Flynn said.
Craig said many of the community college shelters aren’t built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.
The Wiggins shelter will be built to withstand winds up to 200 mph. It will contain a negative-pressure infectious disease isolation room, Craig said.
“Stone County would have the only medical needs shelter that would be rated for a Category 5 (storm),” Craig said.
Funding for the shelter is provided through Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds and through partnerships with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, MEMA and others.