Shelter Controversy Continues in Jackson County

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When Hurricane Ivan threatened Northwest Florida last week, Jackson County Emergency Management officials didn’t open any shelters; That’s because the county does not have any buildings the state can safely certify as an Emergency Shelter.

When EOC Director Rodney Andreason called for a mandatory evacuation last week, many citizens in Jackson County found themselves asking the question, where are the shelters in Jackson County?

Danny Sims is Jackson County’s School Superintendent. “Any school build after 1997 must be build to higher standards. The Cottondale High School rebuilt in 2000 was not brought up the Shelter standards because of the new Marianna High School being built.”

School Board Facilities Manager Buddy Dixon says he received a waiver from the state not to bring the Cottondale High School up to Hurricane Shelter standards because the money could be spent to upgrade the new Marianna High School.

There’s been some miscommunication on how many people the new state certified shelter would hold. State engineers say that number is 2902 people. But others say that figure is closer to 4,000.

Jackson County officials had hoped to have the new shelter at the high school opened for this hurricane season. But, they are behind scheduled with construction because of weather issues.