First "Safe Room Rebate Program" shelters complete in Cooke County

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COOKE COUNTY, TX -- The first storm shelter built through Cooke County's Safe Room Rebate Program was finished this past week and the second one was built on Tuesday.

Residents say with the fall severe storm season approaching they finally have peace of mind now that they have a safe and secure place to go if bad weather strikes, and they say this new program made it all possible.

Pud and John Hendrick say they have seen the devastation from deadly tornadoes that have touched down in Texoma over the past few years. The Hendricks say they know a deadly twister could touch down at any time and they want to be ready.

"They seem to be getting worse so that made it to me even more urgent," Pud Hendrick said.

That is why they took advantage of the Safe Room Rebate Program that reimburses Cooke County Residents up to $3,000 dollars if they build a shelter. It is paid for by a FEMA grant.

Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher says sometimes the only way to survive a violent tornado is to be in a safe room.

"They've been in Joplin. They've been in Alabama and Mississippi, and so we're certainly in that area that could be impacted by that size of a storm. It is rare when it happens, but when it does happen there's no where to run," Fletcher said.

"If you don't have one and you think you're going to rely on a bathtub with a mattress over you. I think you're very foolish," shelter owner, Annabelle Gorman, said.

Annabelle Gorman says she grew up in Gainesville and has had close encounters with tornadoes before. She and her husband James Gorman were the first Cooke County residents to complete their shelter as part of the program.

Fletcher says the $465,000 dollar grant will help about 150 families. He says more than 200 people have already signed up, but it is not too late to show interest.

Hendrick says investing in a safe room is worth every penny.

"And even if you don't get the money. It may be worth it in the value of your home later, but it's certainly worth it to your piece of mind," Hendrick said.

Fletcher says safe rooms cost about $3,000 dollars.

If you are interested in signing up for the program contact Cooke County Emergency Management at 940-668-5400.

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