Jasper County receives grant to improve storm shelter

JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) - Hurricane Matthew was a lesson for most Lowcountry counties.

They used the event to measure the effectiveness of their hurricane plans. We saw in Jasper County how a mandatory evacuation quickly depleted their resources and took up space, but now the county has a grant that will help solve the problem.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School is used as a storm shelter based on its size and architecture, but when thousands evacuated from Beaufort County, the shelter found it quickly reached its capacity of just 1,100 people because only the hallways of the school were able to be utilized because of openings like doorways and windows.

The $1.2 million grant will help the county equip the shelter with everything it needs to accommodate triple the current capacity. Jasper County Emergency Management explained some of those current limitations.

"The on-sight generator was for emergency lighting only and that creates a little bit of an issue as well, because you may have people that may have special needs or functioning needs who didn't quite meet the criteria to go to a special needs shelter or hospital based situation," said Jasper County Emergency Management Chief Russell Wells.

The grant is still in its early stages, but the county is hoping to incorporate extra electricity sources, storm shutters and ultimately be able to handle 5,000 guests.

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