The quest to become a disaster resistant university began on April 9, 2009, with grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the state's Institutes of Higher Learning.
The IHL was the primary recipient while the state's four public universities were provided with sub-grants for the purpose of preparing campus-specific Hazard Mitigation Plans using FEMA's Disaster Resistant University planning model.
"The goals of this process are three-fold," said Lynn Buford, director of the Delta State Police Department. "The first goal of this process is to provide a safer environment for the university community by implementing measures designed to protect human health and safety.
"The second goal is to protect the assets of the university and the final goal is to implement measures that will ensure continuity of operations and to ensure that the university continues to fulfill its mission prior to, during, and after a significant natural disaster."
Prior to the public hearing, the university entered into a professional agreement with Eco-Systems, Inc., a service firm specializing in environmental engineering and consulting.
With their help the university has already received several stamps of approval from various organizations.
"In May Dr. John Hilpert's office received a letter from Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency," said Buford. "This letter basically said that our plan has been approved by MEMA and FEMA pending local adoption and documentation of this final public hearing."
The next step of the process is to get the proper documents signed by Hilpert and have them resubmitted to the proper agencies.
By obtaining the title of Disaster Resistant University, Delta State will become eligible to apply for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant assistance and other funding to financially assist in the implementation of mitigation measures as outlined by the plan.
"These grant funds would then, in turn, be used to purchase equipment and other training devices needed to prepare for natural disaster situations," said Buford. "We hope to use these resources to work together with emergency personnel from the city of Cleveland."
The university appointed a committee comprised of representatives from various divisions, departments and functions of the university and also included representatives from around Bolivar County.
This committee provided valuable guidance and insight to the university's operations and the planning process and continues to exist as an Ad Hoc committee to guide implementation of the plan.
The committee included eight natural hazards that have the highest probability of affecting the university.
These are earthquakes, flooding/flash flooding, hailstorms, hurricanes and coastal storms, severe winter storms, thunderstorms, including lightning and wind, tornados and fires.
The committee also eliminated eight natural hazards, such as avalanche, coastal erosion, dam failure, drought and extreme temperatures, expansive soils, land subsidence, tsunami and volcanoes.
The ultimate goal of the project is to create a safer university for students, faculty, staff and visitors.