FEMA money for shelters in short supply

Money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse people for installed storm shelters is running low, but there may be more coming later this year.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: June 17, 2011
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If you called a local or state government recently asking about Federal Emergency Management Agency money to install a storm shelter, you probably were told there was none. But that could change as soon as late summer or fall.

FEMA offers Hazard Mitigation Grants to state and local governments after natural disasters to prevent future loss of lives or property. One method is to reimburse people up to $2,000 for 75 percent of the cost of a new, FEMA-approved storm shelter.

But the Oklahoma communities who had such money after disasters in recent years have already allocated theirs, state Emergency Management Department spokeswoman Keli Cain said.

“All of the community programs we currently have on our list, those are all out of the application period at this time,” Cain said.

But officials are exploring a plan to apply for FEMA money to be administered by the state through local governments, and that process could be completed in a few months, Cain said.

Local emergency management officials received numerous calls inquiring about the availability of funds after the recent round of tornadoes in the Oklahoma City area, said Greg Adams of the Midwest City Emergency Management Department.

Midwest City had about $800,000 from FEMA last year that helped pay for shelters for 400 city residents, Adams said. The city is applying for money for another 400 shelters.

When more money becomes available, state residents can apply for the money and, if approved, be reimbursed after the shelter is inspected and approved.



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