6 years later...are we better prepared? - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

6 years later...are we better prepared?

HATTIESBURG,MS (WDAM) -  The memory of Katrina lingers in the minds of many, and Terry Steed, the  Director of Emergency Management for Hattiesburg and Forrest County, fears one lesson has not been learned.

"I'm still afraid a lot of people are not taking these things seriously and not preparing themselves,"

Steed says the government can be ready to help the public, but people also need to be ready to help themselves.

"You can't expect the government to start helping until 48 hours after the storm. My message to everyone is be prepared to survive on your on in your home for the first 48 to 72 hours," said Steed.

For those in critical infrastructures who don't have 48 hours to wait, generators for the city and county were added.

"Forrest General Hospital has added quite a bit in the way of generators. They even built a power generator plant, and put in a new water tower. Hopefully, we won't experience some of the loss of water that we had during Katrina," said Steed.

Steed says they have also improved their distribution plan used during Katrina.

"That consist of ice, water, MRE's and things like this. We do have this plan in place, and we know where those sites will be," said Steed.

Steed added six year later Forrest County and the city of Hattiesburg is more prepared than ever since Katrina.

City Engineer Bert Kuyrkendall says Hattiesburg is equipped with 11 newly constructed safe rooms.

"They are placed at fire stations, police sub stations, public works, water and sewer to enable the first responders to be able to protect them, and to get them out after a storm to respond to emergencies," said Kuyrkendall.

This concrete room from floor to ceiling can withstand 250 mile per hour winds.

"You can trace the initiative to FEMA. The money is a 95% grant from FEMA. It is a $200,000  project to provide 11 rooms. The city only paid 5%, " said Kuyrkendall.

Copyright 2011 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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