Repeated bomb threats at the Yazoo City Walmart have created safety concerns for a local nursing home.
Julie Hoffman, executive director of the Martha Coker Green Houses, said that procedures have been put in place to protect residents from a potential disaster.
The Martha Coker Green Houses, where 60 elders reside, is located within 175 feet of Walmart, close enough to be hit by flying debris if there was an actual explosion.
“Whenever we are notified of or have reason to believe a bomb threat has been issued, the procedure we have put in place at each Greenhouse is to move all residents from their individual rooms into a centrally located hearth area which has fewer windows,” Hoffman said.
Much like a tornado drill, residents and nurses in the facility must be transported to a central room or location, away from windows, to protect them from the danger of debris crashing through glass into the facilities.
The frequent bomb threats are causing concerns for many of the 60 elders and 120 employees at Martha Coker.
Some of the residents there are nearing 100 years of age, needing assistance to move around, while others are battling disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.
“It is very frightening to our elders when they hear that a bomb might go off next door,” Hoffman said. “The disruption to their sense of safety and security in their home and the fear that such a threat creates can have a very adverse effect on many of these frail elders.”
Along with moving the elders and employees to a safe place, other procedures include a head count, staying indoors and keeping in communication with administrators until they receive clearance to return to normal operations.
Hoffman often has to rely on her observations to know when a bomb threat occurs, having only once been given a warning from local authorities.
She stated that they often only know there is a threat when fire trucks are lined up in Walmart's parking lot or witnessing others leaving the scene.
However, Hoffman does not blame Walmart for the constant disruptions in the daily routines of her elders.
"It's not Walmart's fault,” she said. “I feel really bad for them because it’s a new business here, and it affects them greatly. They have to shut down every time a threat occurs.”
In addition to disrupting the local business, emergency responders are tied up responding to false alarms because they must take the threats seriously.
"I just wish whoever is doing this would quit," Hoffman continued. "It's just very sad to think that someone is doing this and not realizing the impact they are having, not just on Walmart, but the people who live in the surrounding area."
Local Walmart management declined to comment on this story.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $500 reward for the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the bomb threats. Call 746-8477 (TIPS) if you have any information.