Texas Emergency Management ONLINE2011 Vol. 58 No. 7

MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF

Message from the Chief

We have all watched the destructive violence of this year’s tornado outbreaks. As professional emergency managers we are concerned about making sure that Texans receive adequate warnings of potentially dangerous severe wind events – and that they know what to do when they get those warnings.

It’s also crucial that our residents have a safe place to go when tornadoes strike. One major way that Texans can protect themselves and their families is by going directly to a tornado safe room. Assistance for construction of tornado safe rooms is available to individuals and families, as well as to communities in high or moderate tornado risk areas. FEMA, with TDEM support, provides financial assistance to local communities to encourage the construction of both types.

The Individual Tornado Safe Room Rebate program will finance half the cost of a family-sized safe room constructed at a residence. This does not affect community finances because the homeowner is responsible for the required local cost-share.

The Texas Community Tornado Safe Room program allows communities to use the room for certain other purposes when it is not being used as a shelter. If you are building a community meeting room, a classroom, or an auditorium, the tornado safe room project would cover 75 percent of the total construction cost – as long as the structure doubles as a tornado safe room. More information can be found at the Texas Community Tornado Safe Room Fact Sheet.

Not all areas are subject to the same level of tornado risk. The first step is to check the State Mitigation Plan to see if your county is in a high or moderate risk area.  In addition, to participate in the state’s mitigation grants, your community mitigation plan has to be current, and you need to have attained the ‘basic’ level on your Local Emergency Management plan.   

The next scheduled funding opportunity for this type of project is the upcoming FY2012 Pre-Disaster Mitigation grants. Watch for announcement letters for this grant this month. Meanwhile, you can begin now to discuss the program with your local elected leaders and stakeholders to gauge the level of community interest.

For additional information on tornado safe room projects, check the following links:

FEMA information on safe room sheltering for home or business 

FEMA safe room residential construction information

Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM®


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