HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Residents in Forrest County will be seeing the Forrest County Storm Shelter located at the multi-purpose center used more often.
A recent agreement between local and state officials has given emergency management offices control of their county storm shelters.
Forrest County Board of Supervisors President David Hogan said that number will only increase, thanks to a new agreement after a state-wide meeting.
"There was some question as to who and when the shelters will be open, we will decide when they are open," Hogan said. "They had a state-wide meeting with MEMA and the Red Cross and others, and it was made clear at that meeting that the local emergency management directors will make the decision as to when the shelters will be open."
Hogan said he and other supervisors are pleased with the success in the increased use of the shelter.
"It's worked out a whole lot better, we just a couple of weeks ago had it opened with the severe thunderstorm threat and had over 30 people, in the recent tornado that struck we had over a hundred people in the shelter, many of those live in mobile homes," Hogan said.
Hogan said the agreement is between Forrest County, Mississippi Emergency Management and Red Cross officials and it puts the county and local EMA office in charge of the shelter's operations.
"This new process pertains to when there is a severe thunderstorm threat or a tornado watch, and or a severe thunderstorm watch," Hogan said. "Before this new approach was taken, it was only opened if there was a catastrophe, which kind of defeated the purpose of the building in my opinion."
Hogan said the shelter opening gives county residents an opportunity to seek safety before any storm hits.
"When we first opened it, and got it in operation, we didn't fully understand all the rules that go along with it and how best to use it maybe, but now under Glen Moore's leadership, we are using it on a regular basis," Hogan said.
Forrest County EMA director Glen Moore and staff will man the shelter unless something major were to happen according to Hogan.
"He'll send staff down there to operate it during that threat period, and then if there is a major catastrophe, at that point then the Red Cross and Department of Human Services will come over and take over the operations," Hogan said. "We want the public to be educated to the fact that we have this facility available it does save lives and we encourage you to take advantage of it."
Hogan said the main goal for the shelter is to save lives.
"For Forrest County or any county one of our main responsibilities is public safety, and often times you think of that as law enforcement, but weather events are where we need to help provide public safety," Hogan said.
The shelter is located at 946 Sullivan Drive, which is adjacent to the James Lynn Cartlidge Multi-Purpose Center on Hwy 49 South.\