Storm shelters approved

rbc

By Traci Chapman

City Council on Tuesday accepted a $1.057 million multi-hazard mitigation grant that will provide individual safe room rebates to about 525 Mustang property owners.

The grant, administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency, will assist property owners who applied for the program between September and December 2013, said Robert Coleman, Mustang community development director.

City staff will attempt to notify all applicants of their program status via mail and telephone before Saturday, May 24, Coleman said.

“This presents a unique opportunity to help alleviate some of the potentially disastrous situations we’ve witnessed in the past,” Mayor Jay Adams said. “The city wants to do everything it can to enable its citizens to shelter in place, and this a major step never seen before in Mustang.”

In 2013, Mayor Adams proposed a much smaller city-funded grant program; it failed to receive council endorsement.

The Mustang Individual Safe Room Grant Program is patterned after similar efforts in other communities and the statewide SoonerSafe ISR Program administered by Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Those who are selected and deemed eligible must fulfill certain requirements. If they do so, they could be reimbursed up to 75 percent of their safe room costs, up to a maximum of $2,000, Coleman said.

Anyone who applied for the program should be careful to follow all guidelines so they do not inadvertently do something that invalidates their application, Coleman said.

“Federal grants come with many stipulations and requirements,” he said. “It will be very important for the awardees to make sure they follow all requirements from the city, ODEM and FEMA during this process; those that don’t risk losing the possibility for any potential reimbursement.”

Among those requirements would be informational meetings where applicants’ attendance is required, Coleman said.

Mustang officials received 829 applications by the sign-up deadline; 39 of those properties were determined to be ineligible because of flood hazard area guidelines, Coleman said.

“Approximately 40 citizens chose to forego their eligibility and purchase an ISR prior to the award announcement,” Coleman said.

City officials then used a “web-based number generator” to randomly select 525 property owners for the award from those eligible properties remaining on the list, he said.

Anyone who applied for the grant before the Dec. 31, 2013, deadline should receive some kind of status update in the mail by this weekend, officials said. Anyone who applied and has not received a postcard or letter from the city by then should call 376-9873, Coleman said.

Anyone not initially selected would remain on an alternate list. Should anyone from the original list be deemed ineligible or decline to participate in the program, city officials would make random selections for replacements from the alternate list. Anyone participating in the program must file their participation agreement by the end of June, Coleman said. Participants must then obtain a building permit for the shelter by August and documentation the shelter has been installed must be turned into the city by the end of January 2015, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do with a small staff in a very short time,” Coleman said.

Mustang officials were also approved of the city’s eligibility to recoup up to $30,000 in administration costs associated with the program, the community development director said. A part-time temporary employee, hired for the duration of the grant program, was expected to be hired soon, he said.

“Interested applicants should contact the city of Mustang human resources department during normal business hours,” Coleman said.

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