DUNCAN, Okla. (AP) — Through diligence and lots of paperwork, the Duncan Emergency Management has secured a rebate program through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Gary Curtis, Deputy Director of Duncan/Stephens County Emergency Management, said the city has qualified but needs a certain amount of residents to take part to help all who apply.
“A community wide effort has been launched to help assist area residents with storm shelter rebates — thanks to a federal grant program administered by the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management,” he said to The Duncan Banner.
According to officials, the program is a rebate for home or land owners who build a storm shelter and could get a portion of the cost back from FEMA.
The city has been working on this for some time.
“The City of Duncan has been thinking about doing another shelter program for some time, but the process was so cumbersome,” Curtis said. “The State has made it a lot easier, and we’re excited to get started.”
Curtis said the need for the program became evident during another citywide effort — the comprehensive Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP), a multi-agency overview designed to ensure prompt, efficient response during emergencies.
“At this time we are waiting for the final approval for our County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan,” Curtis said.
They will begin working on the shelter grant as soon as they have approval of the HMP.
“Our hazard mitigation plan, which must be updated and approved by FEMA every five years, is very labor intensive,” Curtis said. “The plan analyzed our vulnerability to tornadoes and recommended that we implement another program to offer financial incentives for residents to install storm shelters.”
There are some requirements and specific criteria that must be met to qualify for the program; for instance, recipients of the rebates must own the property and it must be the primary residence. Mobile home owners must own the land where the shelter will be placed. Perhaps most importantly, the rebate will not be available to property owners who have already installed a shelter.
There are two public meetings in April for citizens to learn more about the program.
“The requirements to participate in the rebate program will be explained at both planned meetings and residents can fill out an application to participate,” Curtis said.
For an application to be submitted for the funding, at least 150 Duncan residents must apply to participate, Curtis said.
“We really need our city’s residents to turn out to these meetings and fill out an application form to show widespread interest in the program,” Curtis said. “Filling out the application doesn’t obligate anyone to install a shelter; it just shows that we have enough interest here to qualify for the funding.”
If more than 150 go through with the building of shelter, then people will be chosen by lottery.
Once the meetings are held and at least 150 applications are collected, Curtis will work to submit the paperwork to the state for processing. An application will then be submitted for the federal funding by the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
Information from: The Duncan Banner, http://www.duncanbanner.com