Some Oklahoma Lawmakers Are Calling For More Shelters


Tuesday, June 7th 2011, 6:34 pm
By: News 9


Gan Matthews, News9

DIBBLE, Oklahoma -- Just two weeks after that tornado outbreak killed ten people across our state, an area lawmaker is calling for more storm shelters across Oklahoma.

Nobody died in McClain County when the tornado hit. However, it destroyed or severely damaged more than 100 homes. And there are only 300 known storm shelters in the county.

Jimmy Carter and seven others rode out the storm down in a cellar.

Tim Benson has a basement at his house. Four families survived the tornado below ground there.

After every tornado the question is always, why don't more people install storm shelters?

"Probably they don't know what the devastation is like," says Time Benson, a McClain County resident. "Plus, they probably haven't got the money to install one."

These days storm shelters range from about $2,000 for a residential unit to more than a million dollars for a municipal shelter.

State Representative Pat Ownbey wants a legislative study on how to make shelters more affordable.

"I think we're going to put everything on the table, whether it be tax incentives for shelters, whether it be publicizing public shelters," say Rep. Pat Ownbey. "We want to put everything out there."

Rep. Ownbey backed a bill two years ago that would have required mobile home parks to have a safety plan, but the bill died in the state Senate due to liability concerns.

Surviving a tornado has a way of focusing the mind. Rep. Ownbey says another lawmaker who rode out a the storm in a shelter now has promised to support a shelter bill in the future.