Funds available for storm shelters

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If you’ve ever felt the need to construct a storm shelter on your property, now is the chance to recoup three-fourths of the project’s cost.

Cou-nty emergency management agency director Susan Harris said applications are now being accepted through a Federal EMA grant that would allow homeowners to be reimbursed 75 percent of the cost.

Harris said this is the second phase of the grant process.

“Right now, we need to know how many people are interested in an in-ground shelter,” she said. “We send that to the state, and then, they look at the application and make the determination on whether or not to approve the application.”

Harris said citizens must pay the total cost of the project up front.

“There are different sizes to accommodate the needs of the family,” she said. “The smallest structure starts at about $4,000 and accommodates four people. These structures are kind of like houses – you can get them as basic or as outfitted as you’d like.”

To apply, property owners must provide proof of ownership, such as a tax bill or deed, as well as two photos – one of the home, and another of the home and the shelter’s proposed location.

“This is a wonderful program and a great asset to the citizens of Covington County,” Harris said. “

On Friday, state EMA director cited the catastrophic tornadoes that hit Alabama in April and the overall rise in violent storms behind the new push to get people to incorporate shelters or safe rooms into their homes.

Harris reminded residents that Covington County is not immune to disasters.

“The risk is here,” she said. “And it’s not just from tornadoes, there’s hurricanes, too.”

Applications are available at the county EMA office located in the county administration building on Hillcrest Drive. Deadline to submit an application is Mon., Aug. 22.