Sun Herald, Biloxi
FEMA grant will help Harrison County schools make roofs stronger against storm winds
By Robin Fitzgerald
Eight Harrison County schools in need of stronger roofs to withstand hurricane-force winds of up to 180 mph will benefit from a federal grant of nearly $7 million, lawmakers said.
Communities also will benefit because buildings on the campuses can be used as “shelters of last resort” during emergencies, according to officials.
FEMA has awarded a grant of $6,976,600 to the Harrison County School District to retrofit work on the district’s remaining schools damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The announcement was made jointly Friday by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith and U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo.
The grant is part of a series of awards to finish wind protection on 19 approved school buildings in the school district, they said in a news release.
“This hazard mitigation funding is part of an ongoing effort to see that Harrison County schools are safe havens for children and the public,” Hyde-Smith said.
“Retrofitting these school buildings to withstand destructive winds will help save lives and taxpayer funding over the long run."
Roofs on 11 buildings in the school district have already been hardened or work on them is under way.
The eight schools to receive stronger roofs:
• D’Iberville High School
• Bel-Aire Elementary School
• Lizana Elementary School
• Lyman Elementary School
• Harrison County Child Development Center
• Harrison County Alternative School & Administrative Center
• Saucier Elementary School
• West Wortham Elementary and Middle School
“This grant continues important work to protect Harrison County’s schools from the devastating impacts of high-powered winds,” Wicker said.
“With stronger school buildings, the school district will be better prepared for the next storm and can focus on their most important job of educating our children.”
Palazzo said the Mississippi Coast “is no stranger to natural disasters, unfortunately.
“While we can’t always predict the weather, one thing we can do is be prepared. This funding will allow our Harrison County schools to be prepared and work proactively to ensure a swift recovery in the wake of a natural disaster,” Palazzo said.
The grant brings to more than $24 million the total amount of awards to the school district for a wind retrofit project, officials said.