Gainesville Daily Register

Local News

July 10, 2012

Grant to assist residents with storm shelter costs

Gainesville — A newly accepted federal grant will allow Cooke County officials to help residents pay for storm shelters.

Commissioners approved reception of a $465,000 “Individual Safe Room Rebate” grant from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) during Monday’s regular meeting. Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Ray Fletcher, who directed the original funds application in May 2011, said the grant will allow the county to give up to 150 people maximum amounts of $3,000 each — enough to cover substantial portions of storm shelter expenses.

The DPS program grant, he added, is a coordination of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).

“If a resident puts in a $5,000 shelter, he would be eligible for a $2,500 reimbursement,” Fletcher said Monday. “And if it’s an $8,000 package, they can max out at $3,000.”

The terms of the grant apply only to pre-manufactured shelters that are delivered to a site. Fletcher added that since officials originally applied for the DPS grant in 2011, more than 160 county residents have signed themselves onto a list for reimbursement.

Not all of them will receive money, he said, since their residential circumstances have changed.

“They’ve moved or don’t have the money, or don’t want to do it now,” he said. “Right now, we can probably cover all those who have signed, up to this point, who still want to.”

An information meeting about the grant is set for 6:30 p.m. July 24, at Gainesville Civic Center. Fletcher said the federal reimbursement includes a few conditions: the applicant must own and live on the shelter property; the shelter must be located out of any flood planes; and both the shelter and installer must be certified by either the National Storm Shelter Association or the Tornado Shelter Association.

He added that the installation process must abide by civic guidelines, such as receiving a permit, and will only be reimbursed through the grant program after the resident formally submits documentation. Once each shelter is installed, Fletcher and officials will visit the location and record the “seal” provided by the installer’s certifying agency. They will also photograph each shelter and assign it a global positioning system (GPS) location.”

“Doesn’t cost us anything other than our time,” he said. “The state has given us $100 per shelter to do that.”

But Fletcher also explained that the grant reimbursement will not apply to shelters that residents may already have built since the federal program was locally announced in spring 2011, even those who have signed up.

Money will only go to shelters to installed after the information meeting on July 24, where applicants can submit further relevant documentation.

“We start with the process here,” Fletcher said. “That way we can make sure it’s done properly and that the proper documentation is provided so that the homeowner is going to get that money, and that we don’t leave someone out.”


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