Mobile home dwellers should seek sturdy shelter in severe weather

Updated: Jan. 10, 2020 at 11:35 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With a threat for severe weather Saturday morning, Mississippians are preparing themselves in case of more tornadoes.

TORCON stands for Tornado Condition Index and is used to measure how likely it is that a tornado will form within 50 miles of your location.

With that knowledge, Word and his employees are, like the rest of us, watching the storms that are expected to come through this weekend. Straight line winds, hail, and possible tornadoes are forecast across the state for early Saturday morning into Saturday midday.

“Earlier today we were at a TORCON 6, which is very very bad for us. On the scale of one to ten, so we’re at a six already. I feel like that may increase by in the morning,” said Rankin County Emergency Operations Center Director Mike Word.

For those residents who live in mobile homes -- especially the older models -- it’s important to know where safety is when the bad weather comes rolling in.

“These things are sitting on concrete blocks most of the time that are on piers, and they’re actually tied down with straps, however again, they’re just not as safe as a conventionally built home," Word said. "So what happens is the underpinning blows out, and then you get the air that’s coming up under the mobile home itself and you’ve completely encapsulated it with air, and it will roll over.”

At the Highlands Mobile Home Park, there are rows of new homes among the older ones. That’s because part of that park was wiped out during a tornado strike in 2014. The mobile homes were upside down in some cases, and torn to shreds like tin cans in other cases.

Mississippi Manufactured Housing Association Executive Director Jennifer Hall said if a home is properly installed and tied down, preparations can be much the same as if you live in a conventional home.

“We tell them the same thing. Go to the center room, and if you’ve got pillows, take pillows just like I do at my house,” she said. “I go to my center room and take pillows and have them ready to put over my head, and we advise them to do.”

She said it’s important to make sure you have C4 straps, which are twice as strong as the C2 straps people have used in the past.

Word says those who live in mobile homes are welcome to come to the Rankin County Tornado Shelter, which will be open Friday night at 11 p.m., or earlier if tornado watches are issued before 11.

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