OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- A first-in-the-nation Safe Room Rebate Program was unveiled at a news conference at the State Capitol this morning by Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt and Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management Director (ODCEM) Albert Ashwood.
"This program provides a $2,000 rebate for installing a Safe Room," Keating said. "The program is for Oklahomans who suffered the loss of their homes from the May 3-5 tornadoes."
During the coming months, Oklahomans will be asked to indicate whether they plan to include a Safe Room when rebuilding or repairing their storm-damaged homes. The state will provide rebates on a worst-first basis from $10 million in funds made available by FEMA for projects to reduce loss of lives and property from future severe storms. Priority will be for Oklahomans in the 16 counties and 14 communities included in President Clinton's disaster declaration for individual assistance. These counties are Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Gregg, Creek, Grady, Kingfisher, Le Flore, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Noble, Oklahoma, Ottowa, Pottawatomie and Tulsa.
"The first-ever rebate program will be available for those homeowners who lost their homes or had their homes damaged more than 50 percent from the storms," Ashwood explained. "In the face of adversity, our residents respond with the Oklahoma standard. This program gives us another option to protect our citizens from future adversity."
To be eligible for the rebate, the construction of a Safe Room above or below ground will have to meet FEMA, state, county and city standards. To register, property owners can call a toll-free number, 1-800-996-OKLA during office hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The number of Oklahomans who sign up for the Safe Room Rebate Program before the registration period ends Sept. 30 will determine if, and how much money will be available for other Oklahomans who wish to build Safe Rooms.
"As President Clinton explained during his visit to the storm-ravaged area, the best way to make your family safer during tornadoes is to build a Safe Room," Witt said. "This first-ever program offers Oklahomans the chance to build a Safe Room and better prepare for the next time storm clouds gather.
"We know that Safe Rooms-save lives. There are Oklahomans who survived the May 3-5 tornadoes because they had the foresight to build a Safe Room. Oklahoma has shown terrific initiative in setting up this Safe Room program so those who want to take responsibility for their own safety and their family's safety can receive a rebate on their investment. The rebate may help Oklahomans focus on the benefits of Safe Rooms, instead of being concerned about the total cost of installing a Safe Room," Witt said.
The cost of installing Safe Rooms can range from approximately $2,000 up to $8,000. Just as the cost of vehicles can vary depending on the brand and options, Safe Rooms can be economy or luxury models.
Financing Opportunities For Safe Room Construction
With the goal of saving lives in future tornadoes and severe storms, federal and state agencies have developed methods to help Oklahomans cover the cost of constructing Safe Rooms.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
Individuals in the 16 counties included in the presidential disaster declaration may apply for an SBA disaster-recovery loan to rebuild or repair their homes. Those who are approved for an SBA loan and intend to construct a Safe Room in their home or business may borrow an additional 20 percent of the approved loan amount. To apply for federal or state disaster-recovery assistance, call 1-800-462-9029. To speak with an SBA loan officer, call 1-800-366-6303.