OKLAHOMA CITY - Five hundred Oklahoma homeowners have been selected to receive safe room rebates today as part of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management's (OEM) statewide program launched in September.
The SoonerSafe - Safe Room Rebate Program provides a 75-percent rebate - up to $2,000 - to eligible Oklahomans who install above-ground or below-ground safe rooms. The program will deliver more than $1 million in rebates to eligible homeowners in 2012.
Selected recipients will be notified by e-mail. They may also check their SoonerSafe accounts to view their status or visit the OEM website at www.oem.ok.gov for a full list of confirmation numbers for those applications that have been selected.
Recipients will need to confirm their participation via the SoonerSafe website within 30 days in order to proceed with the rebate program. They will then have until September 30, 2012 to construct the safe room to FEMA standards and submit the required documentation to the state.
If selected recipients decline participation, additional drawings will take place in order to provide the maximum amount of rebates.
"Much time and effort has gone into the SoonerSafe program from everyone involved and we have seen an outpouring of interest from Oklahoma homeowners," said OEM Director Albert Ashwood. "We are excited to begin working with applicants as they work to receive their rebates."
The SoonerSafe - Safe Room Rebate Program was developed by OEM in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) OK.gov, the State's web portal to provide a rebate for purchase and installation of safe rooms for Oklahoma homeowners. More than 15,000 people have registered for the program since its launch.
The program uses a random selection process to select names so that everyone who registers will have an equal chance to be selected. However, funding priority was given to residents whose homes were destroyed in the April 14, 2011 Tushka tornado and May 22-25, 2011 tornadoes in central and northeastern Oklahoma, which garnered presidential disaster declarations for individual assistance last year.
Homeowners who did not register in 2011 can still be eligible for future drawings by registering online at www.soonersafe.ok.gov . Recipients will be selected annually.
To meet FEMA requirements, safe rooms cannot be installed prior to the rebate drawing and notification period in order to be eligible for the program.
For more information about the program, please visit www.soonersafe.ok.gov .
Safe rooms save lives
Following the 1999 and 2003 Oklahoma tornado outbreaks, OEM worked with FEMA to help fund nearly 10,000 individual above and below ground safe rooms across the state through a rebate program. Since that time, safe room programs have been emphasized at the local level.
Independent of this statewide initiative, community-based individual safe room rebate programs also will continue. These programs require municipalities and counties to serve as the grant applicant; to manage the program and be responsible for securing the 25 percent funding match.
What qualifies as a safe room?
For the purposes of this program, the term safe room will include any above or below ground shelter which meets or exceeds FEMA 320 guidelines for building a residential safe room.
For more information about safe rooms or to download a copy of FEMA Publication 320, which contains recommended construction plans for safe rooms, visit the FEMA website www.fema.gov/mit/saferoom.
-The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management