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Sheltering for retirees available off-base

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Limited space at Keesler requires military retirees and their family members to seek shelter off-base if a hurricane threatens south Mississippi. 

"Several years ago, the base was able to provide sheltering on a space-available basis for retirees, but that's no longer the case," said Larry Tabor, 81st Training Wing plans and programs chief. "Facilities and space are now limited and Keesler can no longer offer shelter to the large number of retirees and family members in the three coastal counties. 

"Retirees should first attempt to seek shelter outside the immediate area," Mr. Tabor added. "If you're unable to leave the area, local Civil Defense offices will announce shelters through the media." 

Crowded conditions in base shelters during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Georges in 1998 forced Keesler to examine its emergency management plan and revise space allocations. 

Keesler's shelters don't have adequate space to protect the entire base population, so only mission-essential personnel and students are sheltered if another hurricane targets the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Mr. Tabor said.