Preparedness & Recovery

Tornado Family Safety Act Introduced to Help with Home Rebuilding

The act clarifies that Small Business Administration disaster loans can be used by homeowners for construction of safe room shelters within rebuilt homes.

by The Moore American / May 21, 2015
FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Specialist Mark Foster looks at a storm shelter used by residents in Moore, Okla. The shelter received minor damage to the door by the tornado on May 20, 2013, but was intact and all those inside survived. Photo courtesy of Andrea Booher/FEMA

(TNS) — Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) introduced legislation this week that would help families rebuilding their homes after disasters. Currently, the Small Business Administration provides homeowners, renters and personal-property owners with low-interest loans to help recover from a disaster.

The Tornado Family Safety Act of 2015, introduced by Cole, clarifies that SBA disaster loans can be used by homeowners for construction of safe room shelters within rebuilt homes.

“Oklahomans are no strangers to severe weather and the terrible destruction that can result from it,” said Cole. “Considering the yearly risk and unpredictability of tornadoes that exists, it is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ it will occur.

This legislation underscores the type of projects that are eligible for these SBA disaster loans, which includes loans for construction of safe rooms. Under current law, SBA can increase the size of a home disaster loan up to 20 percent of the total damage to lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.

"Two years ago this week, tornadoes tore through my hometown of Moore and other surrounding areas," Cole said. "Several days this month, storms have threatened and impacted other communities across the state, including Bridge Creek located in the Fourth District. In every instance, families have not only been shaken by the disaster but many are forced to pick up the pieces—sometimes from nothing—and rebuild. When this happens, it is critical that the replacement homes are ready to withstand future disasters, and I believe that construction of safe room shelters can help provide much-needed piece of mind to Oklahomans who have suffered losses from severe weather.”

Under guidelines from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the International Code Council, a safe room should withstand 250 mph winds and the impact of a 15-pound plank hitting a wall at 100 mph, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Safe rooms designed to the FEMA and ICC standards are recommended for both tornadoes and hurricanes. For individual homes, a safe room could cost between $3,000 and $12,000.

©2015 The Moore American (Norman, Okla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.