COLUMBUS — Homeowners throughout Ohio now have the opportunity to apply to receive reimbursement for the purchase and construction/installation of a tornado safe room inside or outside their homes.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency began accepting applications for its Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program earlier this week. A safe room is a structure specifically designed to provide near-absolute protection in extreme weather events. The Ohio EMA’s rebate program provides a rebate of up to 75 percent to homeowners selected for the program.
“The entire state of Ohio is vulnerable to tornadoes,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Safe rooms are costly, but they can save lives — which is why we want to help homeowners with the expense.”
In May, more than 900 homes and buildings were destroyed or significantly damaged when 21 tornadoes tore through Auglaize, Darke, Greene, Hocking, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Muskingum, Perry, and Pickaway counties.
“Safe rooms offer protection to a tornado’s strong winds and resulting airborne debris and provides near-absolute protection for occupants,” said Steve Ferryman, Ohio EMA mitigation branch chief. “We urge Ohioans to apply for these grants.”
This is the eighth year for the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program. To date, more than $1.5 million in rebates have been awarded to homeowners for the construction of more than 200 safe rooms across the state.
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 stand-alone structure near the home.
The deadline to apply to participate in the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program is April 6 at 5 p.m.
Residents selected for the program are eligible for a rebate up to 75 percent of the cost to install or construct a safe room – up to a maximum of $4,875.
For more information and to apply, visit: https://ema.ohio.gov/ema_saferoom/saferoom-concept.aspx
The Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program will use a computerized random selection process to select applicants. A priority list of applicants will be created from the selected applicants. Chosen homeowners will be notified by email of their position on the priority list on or after April 22. Ohio EMA anticipates grant funding will become available this year and having a list of participants who meet program requirements will expedite the rebate process.
Funding for the rebate program is through a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs. Ohio homeowners would be responsible for 25 percent of the construction costs and any additional costs over the 75 percent maximum rebate of $4,875.
Safe rooms must meet FEMA requirements in FEMA publications 320 and 361 and cannot be constructed/installed prior to the rebate drawing and notification from Ohio EMA to proceed with construction. Ohio EMA plans to offer this rebate program on an annual basis.
Homeowners with questions should call Ohio Emergency Management Agency Mitigation Specialist Dan Clevidence at 614-799-3533.
Information provided by Meigs County Emergency Management Agency.