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Two Oklahoma Lawmakers Call For Study On Tornado Shelters

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A legislative study requested by two Oklahoma lawmakers will address one of the reasons mobile home parks and apartment complexes do not build tornado shelters.

State Reps. Joe Dorman and Pat Ownbey are calling for the study following a deadly tornado that struck on May 24.

"Oklahomans living in mobile homes are extremely vulnerable to being hurt or killed in a tornado. However, mobile home park owners have indicated they are concerned that they will be held liable for a shelter if it fails to adequately protect those using it," Dorman (D-Rush Springs) said. "What I want to look into is whether or not we could pass legislation that would better protect them from a lawsuit if their shelter received certification from the state fire marshal."

The May 24 tornado touched down in the Chickasha area, killing one person and displacing and injuring others, Dorman said.

"The communities in my district regularly suffer from natural disasters, so I am especially keen to do all I can to help create better safeguards," Dorman said. "The speed at which a tornado can move and suddenly form makes it difficult to get to a shelter that is any distance from your home. I think the best scenario would be for these mobile home parks to have a shelter on hand."

Dorman said there is bipartisan support for addressing tornado safety.

"Republicans and Democrats are concerned about the safety of mobile home residents. It is an important issue that I hope we can work on over the interim and create legislation for the 2012 legislative session," Dorman said.

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