FEMA To Help Rural Muskogee County Residents With Storm Shelters
By Craig Day, The News On 6
MUSKOGEE COUNTY -- With Oklahoma's threatening weather, one county is working to better protect the people who live there.
Muskogee County is using federal grant money to reimburse residents who get storm shelters.
At the Muskogee County Emergency Management office, one look at the radar is all it takes to know its storm season. Director Jeff Smith wants people to be safe, especially when there's a tornado.
FEMA money is helping.
"A step in the right direction to preserve life in Muskogee County," said Smith.
The county got $250,000 from FEMA for a storm shelter reimbursement program. It reimburses 75 percent of the cost of a safe room or cellar, up to $1,800 for those who qualify.
"There's a lot of people that have thought about it, but they were just too expensive to do and suffer the full cost," said Smith.
Keefeton Fire Chief Speck Plunkett signed up for the program.
"It's an opportunity that people should not pass up. They should go ahead and sign up on it," said Plunkett.
The reimbursement is only for homeowners in unincorporated parts of the county, people typically without quick access to shelters.
"Out in the rural community, they just don't have that," said Smith.
Cellars must be within 100 feet of homes, and can't go in a flood plain or impact endangered animals. It's first come, first served until the money is gone.
"When we reinitiate this grant, those people will automatically go to the front of the line for the secondary grant," said Smith.
It's all about better protecting citizens during tornado season, and providing peace of mind.
"It will definitely save lives," said Smith.
The Muskogee County Emergency Management office is taking applications. The city of Muskogee also applied for a federal grant for the same program, but hasn't heard back yet from FEMA.
The McReady program is helping Oklahomans stay safe in the storm. Throughout the month of April, you'll find severe weather safety information at the more than 190 McDonald's restaurants throughout the state.
There are also safety tips and a chance to win a weather radio at McReady.org.
Many Oklahoma towns want people to register shelters, so first responders know where to check.
REGISTER YOUR STORM SHELTER:
- Bixby Police Department -- Residential Storm Shelter Registry
- BROKEN ARROW
- City of Broken Arrow -- Storm Shelter Registration
- Community Development Department -- 918-322-5409
- Muskogee Fire Department -- 918-687-5483
- City of Owasso -- Storm Shelter Registration
- TULSA & UNINCORPORATED TULSA COUNTY
- Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency -- 918-596-9899