HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - As he walks through the halls of the new emergency shelter, Salvation Army Corps Officer Patrick Connelly has a sense of happiness talking about the progressive steps made, moving forward.
“We want this facility not to be just a flop house. We want it to be a place where people come who are interested in moving from crisis to stability,” Connelly said.
Destroyed in the 2017 tornado, it has been more than two years since the doors to the Center of Hope in Hattiesburg have welcomed in people standing in the midst of a crisis. Now it is just months away from opening its doors again.
“The need for this facility I think has been highlighted as a result of the tornado," Connelly said. “People who don’t have a place to go have become a lot more visible compared to two and a half years ago.”
Once open, the shelter will house men, women and women with children.
“Capacity wise, on the men’s side we will be able to house 32 men. Which would leave us with the space for 12 women, a family and a woman with children,” Connelly said.
Complete with a laundry facility as well as sitting areas in both sides, Connelly expects to see the facility to be in full operation by the summer.
“While I can’t give anyone a firm date on when it’s going to open, I can tell you we are much closer than we have ever been before," Connelly said. "We are thrilled to see this process come to an end and hopefully have a program and facility better than the one we had.”
The entire Salvation Army complex has been rebuilt since the 2017 tornado. Connelly said the claim for the project as a whole is close to $4.5 million.