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FEMA Funding 55 Storm Shelters

Mayes County, Okla., Emergency Management Director Janzen said FEMA allocated $110,000 for 55 safe room reimbursements as they reimburse 75 percent of the safe room cost, up to $2,000.

by Cydney Baron, The Daily Times, Pryor, Okla. / November 18, 2015

(TNS) - After two years of exhaustive efforts, Mayes County , Okla., Emergency Management said they have secured FEMA funding for 55 storm safe room reimbursements.

“We applied for 192 safe room reimbursement grants from FEMA. After two years of work we got an offer from FEMA,” said MCEM Director Johnny Janzen. “They gave us two options, we could take the 55 they can afford the reimbursements for, or we can hold off on all of them until FEMA can afford them all.”

Janzen said he’s seen counties end up with nothing and figured some reimbursements were better than none.

FEMA never said the other applicants on the list would never get funding, just that they couldn’t cover the entire list this round.

Janzen said FEMA allocated $110,000 for 55 safe room reimbursements as they reimburse 75 % of the safe room cost, up to $2,000.

During this safe room project, Janzen said they accepted applications from both the county as a whole, and the City of Pryor. When it came to selecting the 55 awardees, Janzen said they worked their way from the top of the list, alternating between the city and county lists.

Awardees are attending Individual Shelter Rebate Program Kickoff meetings in two batches this week. After signing off on the necessary paper work at the meeting, awardees are free and clear to purchase their safe rooms.

“We will submit the receipts and paperwork to FEMA, who will then issue a reimbursement check to the county. The county will then cut checks to the individual awardees,” Janzen said.

The 55 awardees have until Aug. 31, 2016 to purchase and install their saferoom, have it inspected and submit the paperwork. If the process is not completed by Aug. 31, Janzen said they will move on to the next applicant on the list.

Awardees have a few criteria to follow, they were told in a meeting Monday: The saferoom must be installed on the property listed on the application, the approved applicant must own the property, property must be the applicant’s primary residence, the safe room must be installed within 100 feet of the home, no part of the property can be in the floodplain and installation cannot start until after the meeting.

Applicants have their choice of an in-ground or above-ground storm shelter.

“I know we had some disappointed people who weren’t picked, but the money just wasn’t there,” Janzen said. “This is an excellent opportunity, you just have to wait for your time.”

Janzen said as frustrating as it is, “FEMA can only do what they have the money to do.”

To applicants who were not chosen as the 55 being awarded, Janzen said they are remaining on the list as they were to await future funding.

“It was extra work but we went ahead and got all the applicants approved by FEMA, so the environmental and floodplain studies were done for all of them, that way if money becomes available they are already ready to go,” he said.

County awardees met Monday and were told it could take 10-12 weeks after inspection before they receive their reimbursement check.

“Your saferooms will all be entered into the MCEM database, which we’ve had for several years,” MCEM Deputy Director Mike Dunham said. “That way if there is a tornado, we know you have a shelter. If you become trapped we know your address and the location of the shelter on your property and can send emergency crews directly to you.”


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