Oklahoma Residents To Benefit From Shelter Rebate
The Oklahoma governor, Mary Fallin announced a program that will see homeowners get a cash rebate amounting to $2,000 for the installation of the right tornado shelter. The program will cost up to $1 million in federal money and is expected to cover approximately 75 percent of the installations for below or above ground shelters. According to Fallin, it is of the essence for leaders of the state to help Oklahomans in times of harsh weather and ensure lives are saved at all cost. The program will be solely directed to homeowners and will involve random selection of beneficiaries starting January. According to the Oklahoma Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood, residents whose homes were destroyed during the first quarter of the year will be given the first priority though. There are approximately 20,000 homeowners who are expected to file their application in the 500 cash rebates available, he further added.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will ensure that the each of the shelters is in tandem with the stipulated specifications. Reports by OEM show that at least 800 tornadoes occur in the United States that result in approximately 80 deaths and over 1,500 fatalities. A Texas Tech researcher, Larry Tanner who has over ten years experience in this area, however, posits that there have been no reported deaths in shelters that meet FEMA specifications. A meeting was held by the House Public Safety Committee to look for the best way to cushion residents in mobile homes from the effects of tornadoes. One of the Oklahoma homeowners, Tammy Short gave a testimony of her 24 year old daughter, who died after a tornado swept through Chickasha Mobile Home Park. The trailer was flung because of the improper anchorage and therefore regular inspection would be the best solution, Short avers. The study on the status of these shelters had been requested by Rep. Pat Ownbey, who has also evinced hopes that legislation on the proper anchorage for the homes would be passed in due course.
Ownbey expressed his concerns that although manufactured house retailers try their best to inspect the houses as they assemble them after a sale is made; there are some customers who decide to assemble their homes by themselves. The latter group, sometimes, fail to install and secure the houses properly. Ensuring that the homes are elaborately secured is one of the ways through which deaths could be averted, he added. Short and one of the closest friends Juanita Dowling who also lived in the trailer requested lawmakers to ensure that people living in mobile home parks are provided with shelters. The Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma Executive Director Deanna Fields, however, said that attempts by lawmakers to push for the setting up of storm shelters in mobile home parks is likely to be met with sheer opposition by the market players. He based his argument on the fact that public shelters are seldom constructed in mobile home parks and other similar housing projects.
Michael E. Dortch
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