Over the next two weeks, The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will hold ribbon-cutting ceremonies at seven of the nine COVID/Emergency Relief Facilities (CERF) across the Tribal communities. Tribal officials, along with project partners, will be on hand to celebrate the completion of the CERF buildings in the Standing Pine, Red Water, Tucker, Pearl River, Bogue Chitto, and Crystal Ridge, Conehatta, and Bogue Homa communities.
“The goal with this overall project was to make sure we utilize federal dollars to meet our Tribal community’s optimal needs.,” said Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben. “For many years a major need in our rural communities was a safe and secure place for people to go to during a storm. We solved this critical need and built a facility that is multi-functional in that it can also be used as a PPE distribution site or used by the Choctaw Health Center for vaccination drives. It is a great addition to all our Tribal communities.”
All CERF buildings share similar floor plans and range in square footage between 5,655 and 8,160. Each facility has one office for community facility coordinators, a multi-purpose area that can be used as a storm shelter if needed, a men’s and women’s restroom with showers, a full industrial kitchen with dry storage, PPE storage areas, and a medical suite.
Built with reinforced concrete walls and a roof designed to withstand 220 mph winds, all CERF buildings have ballistic glass windows with a 200mph rating. The 250kw (300kw in the three larger facilities) diesel generator can run up to 72 hours on a full tank.
Utilizing CARES Act money received by the Tribe, nine CERF buildings in each Tribal community and a Choctaw EMA Logistics facility on the Choctaw Fire Department campus were built. The total project cost was $25 million. All CERF buildings were designed by Pryor-Morrow Architects from Columbus, Miss; the Engineer was Willis Engineering from Grenada, Miss; and the Contractor was Yates Construction from Philadelphia, Miss.