More storm shelters in Region 8

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

ASH FLAT, AR (KAIT) - If you own a home, but don't think you can afford to build a storm shelter think again!  The federal government wants to help keep you safe.  A grant through FEMA gives folks who want to put in a storm shelter up to half of their money back!  Storm shelters are one place you can go during severe weather to stay safe and over the past several years the number of shelters going in is going up!

"I think the real reason is the tornado that came through in 2008," said Tom Garner.

Tom and Shelly Garner want to protect themselves and their family.

"It did so much destruction around here.  It blew two or three of my good friends' houses completely away," said Garner.

"Our first year in it we didn't sell 20 storm shelters, that was five years ago.  Two or three years running we were two hundred plus," said Dennis Hammon.

Dennis Hammon with Arkansas Storm Shelter installs shelters like this one on a weekly basis.

"Used to you would have a few here and there but anymore people are starting to think about it a little more," said Hammon.

Over the past several years the number of storm shelters being installed in homes has increased, especially after severe weather.

"The big destruction from the tornadoes the past few years has been what I think has caused people to think they need them," said Hammon.

Garner said he remembers listening to storm reports back in February of 2008 as the tornado was moving across Northeast Arkansas.

"If that thing had have hit this house the way it did some of my friends' houses it could have killed us.  There wouldn't have been any of the house left, so this time around we want a place to go," said Garner.

Garner will also be getting part of his money back.  A grant through the state of Arkansas from FEMA will allow you to get half of your money back in a rebate up to $1,000.

Greene County Office of Emergency Management Director said every year the state gets $1,250,000

for this program.  They usually run out of money before the fiscal year ends at the end of June.  The money is replenished at the start of the fiscal year on July 1st.

Hood said if you are interested in the program you can contact your local Office of Emergency Management for more information.  She said most storm shelter installers know the regulations from FEMA for the rebate.  The process if fairly simple, Hood said after the installation homeowners will need to fill out some paperwork and provide a copy of their receipt.  Photographs of the work at the shelter are also required.

Greene County residents interested in this program should contact Shelly Hood at the Greene County Courthouse at 870-239-6300.

©2010 KAIT All rights reserved.