FEMA grant pays for Ottawa County storm shelters - KOAM TV 7

FEMA grant pays for Ottawa County storm shelters


Residents of Ottawa County are not strangers to extreme weather and the damage it causes. That's why FEMA is paying for pre-selected residences to install storm shelters on their property.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management was awarded a $235,625 grant from FEMA, which will help cover the costs of building 115 individual safe rooms for residents in Ottawa County. The grant, the "Individual Safe Room Rebate Program" will reimburse selected residents up to 75 percent of the cost of installing the shelter, up to $2,000. The remaining 25 percent is the responsibility of the homeowner.

"This can put shelters in the hands of people who maybe couldn't afford them otherwise," Joe Dan Morgan, director of Ottawa County Emergency Management said.

It is to the discretion of the homeowner the design, capacity and build of the shelter as well as the decision to build above ground or in-ground. Morgan figures the average price for an indoor storm shelter averages about $4,500, while an in-ground shelter costs about $2,900. Morgan says officials learned a lot after recent tornadoes.

"They determined people were trying to shelter in their homes and an interior closet or an interior restroom, did not survive that particular tornado, so storm shelters save lives, if you were in an approved storm shelter, you survived," Morgan said.

FEMA asked for a list of nearly 200 residents who would want a storm shelter, 115 get selected. The remaining qualifying names are put on a wait-list for the next grant which could be granted in three years.

Storm shelters cannot be built in a flood zone and residents within the city of Miami do not qualify for the county grant as Miami already has a city program.

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