OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- As Oklahomans repair or rebuild homes and other property damaged in the May 10-13 storms, state and federal recovery officials have an important message for them: Haste makes waste when building without a permit.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urge property owners to stop at their local public works department or other permitting office before they pick up a saw or swing a hammer. Cities and counties require builders to get appropriate construction permits before they launch any rebuilding or significant repair project.
"We want to see homeowners use their federal assistance grants wisely," said Federal Coordinating Officer Gregory W. Eaton. "Following local building ordinances is one way to ensure their homes are sound and their families safe."
The federal disaster declaration for the May storms and tornadoes makes Individual Assistance grants and U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest loans available to help eligible homeowners, renters and business owners repair and rebuild in nine counties. These are Carter, Cleveland, Creek, Garvin, McIntosh, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Seminole.
By requiring construction permits, the state of Oklahoma and its local governments ensure buildings are built to existing codes, which in turn protects the safety of homeowners and the community at large. Permits are required not only for new construction, but also for rebuilding an existing home or building, or doing substantial electrical, mechanical or plumbing work.
"We understand Oklahomans' urgent need to get their homes repaired so they can get on with their lives," said OEM's Fred W. Liebe, state coordinating officer for the recovery effort. "We highly recommend they adhere to local regulations and get all necessary permits before they rebuild."
For more information on Oklahoma disaster recovery, click www.fema.gov/Oklahoma, visit the OEM site at www.oem.ok.gov or follow OEM on Twitter at www.twitter.com/okem. Users of smart phones and other mobile devices can visit m.fema.gov.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) prepares for, responds to, recovers from and mitigates against emergencies and disasters. The department delivers service to Oklahoma cities, towns and counties through a network of more than 350 local emergency managers.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.