Storm shelters are limited in counties across East Mississippi

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Lauderdale County is one of several East Mississippi counties that doesn't have a public storm shelter. Board of Supervisors' president, Jonathan Wells, says one of the reasons is lack of funding.

"It comes down to where do we fund such a project for storm shelters? We are always reaching out to our PDD, which is our development community, looking for grants for such a project to take place," says Wells.

Wells says there are also questions about who's responsible for building and maintaining the shelter and who would be in charge of security if the shelter is opened during a weather emergency.

"It’s not just storm shelters, but it's the funding that comes with building and maintaining it. Making sure it's available. You've got to have people to operate it the whole time it's open," said LEMA director, Odie Barrett.

Shelters are also not available in Newton, Neshoba, Kemper and Clarke counties.

Public storm shelters are, however, available in Sumter and Choctaw counties in Alabama. And there is also a shelter on the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Reservation in the Pearl River community.

The city of Meridian recommends investing in a personal storm shelter for you and your family and to stay up to date with weather alerts.

"Get on our Nixle notification system. You text your zip code to 888-777 and they will give you the notifications that we send out," says Barrett.

WTOK's free Storm Team 11 weather app is also a good resource

"I will also encourage people as they build new homes to build that safe room. Spend that extra few dollars to make your home safe for your family," says Wells.

The Louisville community storm shelter opened its doors last year. The project grew out of a devastating tornado in that community in April 2014.