FEMA Mitigation Best Practices: Safe Room Program Offers Cooke County Texas Residents Peace of Mind   [open pdf - 614KB]

"Faced with a long local history of dangerous tornadoes, Cooke County officials wanted to help residents protect themselves in the future. They achieved that goal by offering homeowners financial incentives to build tornado shelters and safe rooms. Established in May 2011, with the help of federal mitigation funds, the county's Residential Safe Room Rebate Program reimburses homeowners for part of the cost of installing safe rooms and shelters on their property. The rebate covers 50 percent of the total cost, up to $3,000. To date, about 150 residents have benefitted. […] 'T he goal s of this rebate program are to help Cooke County residents be as prepared as possible and help provide them a safe place to go in the event of a tornado,' said Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher. 'It's not a matter of if we will have another tornado in Cooke County, but when.' According to the National Climatic Data Center, Cooke County, Texas, has had 53 tornado events since 1950. The tornadoes caused $54 million in damage and injured 27 people. Fletcher said that starting up a safe room initiative had always been one of the first mitigation activities he wanted to see implemented during his term as the county's emergency management coordinator. However, he had to wait until the county had a viable hazard mitigation plan in order to apply for federal funding. In 2011, the county received a $750,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to fund the start-up project. 'We advised and encouraged residents to apply,' Fletcher said. 'Residents were aware that not all who applied would get a grant. It was on a first-come, first-served basis. We got a great response.'"

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