Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Tornado shelter funds available

By Leslie Gartrell
Ohio homeowners once again can apply for reimbursement for the construction/installation of a tornado safe room inside or outside their homes, according to an Ohio Department of Public Safety news release.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency began accepting applications for its Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program on Monday. According to the release, a safe room is specifically designed to provide nearly absolute protection in extreme weather events. The program provides a rebate of up to 75% to homeowners selected for the program.
"The entire state of Ohio is vulnerable to tornadoes," Gov. Mike DeWine said in the release. "Safe rooms are costly, but they can save lives - which is why we want to help homeowners with the expense."
More than 900 homes and buildings were destroyed or significantly damaged in May, when 21 tornadoes tore through Auglaize, Darke, Greene, Hocking, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Muskingum, Perry and Pickaway counties, according to the release. An EF3 tornado on Memorial Day ripped through Celina with top wind speeds of 150 mph. More than 40 homes had severe damage or were deemed a total loss.
Mercer County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Robbins said he wasn't sure how many Mercer County residents have used the rebate program but wouldn't be surprised if some applied this year.
"We may have a little more interest this year because of the tornado," he said.
Safe rooms can be constructed/installed in one of several places in the home, including in the basement; beneath a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor; or in an interior room on the first floor. A safe room may also be buried in the yard or be a standalone structure near the home.
Residents selected for the program are eligible for a rebate up to 75% of the cost to install or construct a safe room, up to a maximum of $4,875. Homeowners would be responsible for 25% of the construction costs and any additional costs over the maximum rebate.
This is the eighth year for the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program. To date, more than $1.5 million in rebates have been awarded for the construction of more than 200 safe rooms, according to the release.
The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. April 6. For more information and to apply, visit
The program will use a computerized random selection process to select applicants. Chosen homeowners will be notified by email of their position on the priority list on or after April 22.
Homeowners with questions should call Ohio Emergency Management Agency Mitigation Specialist Dan Clevidence at 614-799-3533.
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