Safe Room Rebate Program is a hit

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COOKE COUNTY, TX -- People in Cooke county now have even more incentive to protect themselves from severe weather. The county has been awarded a grant that will pay residents back, for building safe rooms.

More than a hundred showed up to a community meeting tonight to learn more about the program.

A resident who buys a safe room can get up to $3,000 back. It's a big incentive, but there are a limited number of spots in the program.

Joe Stout said he's always wanted a storm shelter, but has never gotten around to building one.

"Money and things of that nature. Things come up. This kind of forces the issue. Since the grants there, you want to utilize that money," Cooke county resident, Joe Stout said.

Resident Allyson Russell said the rebate is a huge incentive to invest in her family's safety.

"We have a lot of family over a lot and so that way if something was to happen we would be covered. And then, you know what, we live off the highway. So therefore, you never know when life happens and if you could help a total stranger out that'd be even more of a blessing," Russell said.

Cooke County Emergency Management coordinator Ray Fletcher said he learned last month that the county had been awarded a $465,000 grant. The money will be used to reimburse residents who build storm shelters, up to $3,000.

"It really got the conversation about preparedness out there. It got people talking about storm shelters," Fletcher said.

In fact, so many are now talking about getting storm shelters, there may not be enough money to go around. The $465,000 grant will help about 150 families. Fletcher says just over 200 have signed up.

He says for those who are approved, it could take up to five months after their shelter is installed, before their check comes in. But said any incentive to make his county safe is worth the wait.

"We're here to plan, prepare and respond to disasters. And part of that planning and preparing process is making sure the public is able to take care of themselves. And this go a long way to do that. So, the more people that are in these shelters and the more we have out there in the community, the less people we've got to take to the hospital," Fletcher said.

Fletcher said the county can always apply again for another grant in order to accommodate more residents, but he said they're going to wait to see how this round goes first.

Grayson and Fannin counties have applied for the grant, but they are still waiting on the approval from Texas and FEMA.

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