Petal School District moving forward with plans to add storm shelters

Petal School District moving forward with plans to add storm shelters

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - The Petal School District is in the final stages of getting new shelters to hold and protect students and staff during bad weather.

“We’re going to get five new buildings erected on all of our campuses for us to be able to use when we have inclement weather coming in,” said Matt Dillon, the district’s superintendent.

Dillon said the district is used to seeing bad weather, so these new shelters will help the district be more prepared.

“Typically, in our area we have tornadoes and tornadic weather, and typically with hurricane you have enough warning to prepare for that, but not always the case with tornadoes,” said Dillon.

He says it’s a great asset to the district and can offer parents district-wide a peace of mind.

“This is just another layer of protection that we can provide during the school hours for our students," Dillon said. “If we know the weathers coming, we can get them to a safe place, and I think this is a great opportunity for our district.”

The process of getting the buildings funded has been in the work for years, but the Forrest County Board of Supervisors have agreed to match the district 90-10 on the new buildings.

“Multiple years, this process has been a long process," Dillon said. “This grant is through FEMA and it’s been a lot of work behind the scenes at the state level, but also at the federal level talking to some representatives and all to get the ball rolling.”

Many schools within the district have faced capacity issues over the years, so the new shelters will also aid in providing multi-purposed space.

“When we’re not dodging the bad weather, we can utilize that space in other areas, whether it be elective classes or PE classes, just another facility for us to use on our campuses throughout the school day,” said Dillon.

Dillon says he’s glad to be wrapping up the process to bring the project to completion sometime next year.

“You go through a lot of hoops, a lot of red tape, but we’re so thankful we’re on the final stages of accepting a bid, moving forward with a 60-day window from there, and hopefully right around the first of the year start construction across our district with the safe rooms and storm shelters,” said Dillon.

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