Lawmakers Consider Storm Shelters for Mobile Home Parks
By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Mobile home parks are among the most susceptible areas during severe weather. That's why state lawmakers are considering requiring storm shelters at Oklahoma mobile home parks.
The small town of Lone Grove in Carter County was the hardest hit during the February 10, 2009, tornadoes. Eight people were killed and at least four of them lived in mobile home parks.
"We had 41 trailers. There were four standing, three that were livable. The rest of them, it looked like a bomb had hit," said John Bowman, Manager of the Lone Grove Mobile Community.
Bowman said he believes lives could have been saved back in February if the mobile home parks had storm shelters.
"We should be able to help these people to make sure they've got a safe place to go," Bowman said.
After the devastating twister, Bowman made a plea before Oklahoma lawmakers who are now looking at requiring mobile home parks to install shelters and giving them a tax credit to do so.
"We do not want to put burdens on people. We understand it's tough economic times right now, and we understand all that. But the safety of our people is one of the paramount concerns we have in the legislature up here," Rep. Samson Buck, (D) Ardmore said.
Lawmakers said one option would be to put shelters between every three or four mobile homes and to assign specific shelters to the homes so the residents will know where they need to go should they need to take cover.
"Not necessarily just from tornadoes, but even catastrophic wind events. Ninety mile an hour straight line winds can still tear a trailer apart," Paul Tucker, Carter County Emergency Manager, said.
Lawmakers have said cost will be a factor since one shelter could range from $2,000 up to $6,000. But the people who survived the Lone Grove tornado said lawmakers can't afford to do nothing.
"These people want to live in Lone Grove America, but they cannot afford a shelter for themselves," Bowman said.
Bowman said many of those who survived the February twister have already moved back into the mobile home parks.
Lawmakers said they plan to take up the issue during next year's legislative session.