AUSTIN, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded $3,930,500.00 to the Texas Panhandle Regional Planning Commission (PRPC) to implement the FEMA Safe Room Rebate Program in 26 Panhandle counties.
The 26 Panhandle counties eligible for the program include; Armstrong, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Collingsworth, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Donley, Gray, Hall, Hansford, Hartley, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Lipscomb, Moore, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher and Wheeler.
These FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds will benefit eligible Panhandle residents by providing 50 percent of the costs -up to $2,500- to install a safe room/storm shelter in the home. The grant management will be done through the Governor's Division of Emergency Management (GDEM).
On Thursday, July 26, local, state and federal officials will award an oversized presentation check to the Board of Directors for the Planning Commission. The large check will display the total grant funds for the award and will be presented at 1:30 p.m. in the PRPC offices at 415 West 8th Street in Amarillo.
Sandy Coachman, director of the Texas Transitional Recovery Office in Austin, said, "The Safe Room Rebate program reflects FEMA's dedication to creating disaster resistant communities nationwide. We enthusiastically support the building of individual safe rooms, especially in tornado alley, and we hope this mitigation grant will provide a level of safety and security for Panhandle residents."
"You can't prevent natural disasters like tornadoes from occurring," said Gary Pitner, PRPC Executive Director. "The Safe Room Program provides us the opportunity to prevent or at least, greatly reduce the loss of life or injury that often occurs when tornadoes strike."
Under the PRPC Safe Room Rebate Program, shelters meet the standards set by the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA). The NSSA standards require the safe rooms be able to withstand the force of a 100mph straight wind, absorb the impact caused by 15 pounds of flying debris striking the unit at 150 mph and generally, stand up to an EF-5 tornado.
The HMGP provides funds to states and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. This grant is provided under the disaster declaration for Hurricane Rita.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.