Storm Shelter Grant Money On Hold For Purcell Residents

Friday, February 6th 2015, 6:11 pm
By: News 9

Grant money promised to Purcell residents wanting storm shelters has been put on hold.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said it has too many other projects to handle first, and it could be a while.

“Maybe we'll get notified quickly, and maybe we can get a few in the ground by then, but for now, we're just kind of in a holding pattern," said Kevin Rhoads, Purcell Emergency Management director.

The city's $400,000 project to get money for storm shelters to Purcell residents, who applied for it, has been shelved.

"We did all of our paperwork submitted it to the state, it was approved, then we were notified that the state's funding had been cut by $5.7 million," Rhoads said.

About 153 residents applied for the FEMA-funded Hazard Mitigation Grant last summer, which would pay back residents for storm shelters up to 75 percent.

“Things moved really quickly then, the next two months they shut down,” Rhoads said.

Albert Ashwood, Executive Director for the State's Emergency Management said, the $16-million pot of money from the federal government for disaster relief has since dwindled down to half that. And after paying for 91 school shelters, about 15,000 residential safe rooms on top of various other projects, the Purcell shelter grant money is on the back burner.

"We already had a lot of applications on the shelf before then, so at some point, you run out of money, and you kind of have to wait for the next disaster,” Ashwood said.

“Does that mean they won't get funded? No, they absolutely probably will get funded; it might not be until we have another disaster, so we can get another pot of money. We still think we have some money left, we can't guarantee Purcell. But we know we are well aware of them.”

While the waiting game continues for many in Purcell, resident Gorman Green had a storm shelter installed on his own last week.

"We put it off for a long time but with keeping both grandbabies this year, we decided we would go ahead and put one in for their safety," Green said.

Green said he paid about $2,250 for his G&M Tank Co. shelter but hopes he'll never have to use it.