County nets $1.54M in federal funds for safe room

Logo for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (courtesy)

Oktibbeha County will soon see the competition of a new federally-funded safe room to protect residents from severe weather after receiving $1.54 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to finish the project.

The grant was announced last week by U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss.

The funds are provided through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and will go toward the construction of the second phase of the Oktibbeha County Safe Room at 607 Lynn Lane in Starkville.

The facility will be a 8,756-square-foot monolithic dome to be designed with 7,910 square feet of usable space capable of serving 1,600 students, staff and residents.

“I’m thankful the people of Starkville and Oktibbeha County will soon have a safe place to seek shelter,” Wicker said. “Storm shelters are essential to ensuring students, faculty, staff, and citizens are protected from Mississippi’s unpredictable and often dangerous weather.”

FEMA is making $1.79 million available overall for the safe room project, which will cost $2.04 million to complete. This is combined with $242,802 in the Phase I design and engineering funding awarded in December 2014.

The first phase of work included the completion of surveys, soil testing, and architectural and engineering design. In June 2017, FEMA said the review of Phase 1 deliverables was delayed due to a tribal cultural assessment requirement.

Oktibbeha County EMA Director Kristen Campanella said in a press release Phase II of the project will include the advertising and receiving bids for construction of this project.

“From what I understand with this process, once the bid has been awarded, we are looking at possibly a year to complete construction,” she said. “I would like to thank the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors for approving and al- locating the funding for the non- federal share portion allowing the construction of this FEMA 361 Community Safe Room possible.”

FEMA’s contribution ultimately amounts to 87 percent of the overall cost, with the remainder to be funded with nonfederal resources.

The shelter will be built to withstand winds up to 250 mph and will also be available for meetings and events. Oktibbeha County will provide maintenance and operate the dome, along with contributing construction.