OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama community struck by a deadly tornado in March is seeking federal funding to help its residents to build storm shelters.
The Lee County Commission is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to include the county as part of a grant program.
The federal program gives storm survivors the opportunity to receive a 75% reimbursement to purchase a new shelter, The Opelika-Auburn News reported.
The remaining 25% of the cost must be paid by the homeowner, Lee County Emergency Management Director Kathrine Carson said.
In March, a tornado killed more than 20 people in the Beauregard area of the county.
Surviving families, people who were severely injured, lost their homes or who are living in areas more subject to experiencing a disaster are among those who will be eligible for the shelter grant program, Carson said.
“Overall, Lee County will have $383,782 available of FEMA money,” she said. “When a property owner applies for it, there’s a reimbursement grant. They have to pay for it up front and have the installation done. We assist them in this entire process, and once they provide all of this information from FEMA that’s required, they get a check back.”
Before constructing the shelter, Carson advised residents utilizing the program to wait for a FEMA letter approving the installation of the shelter in order to be reimbursed.
Lee County Commissioner Robert Ham said he appreciated Carson’s effort to ensure residents will be prepared for another disaster.
“In the area that the tornado went through, these are a lot of low-income families,” Ham said. “They don’t have $4,000 sitting around. A lot of us don’t have $4,000 sitting around, but Kathy has done a lot of work to make sure that can get covered. I would love to see this happen. We could help a lot of people down there.”