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Grant Could Help Wichita County Residents Install Storm Shelter

<P>A storm shelter can mean the difference between life and death when a tornado touches down.</P> <P>That's why Wichita County Commissioners took the first step during a meeting this morning to help keep residents safe.</P> <P>Mechell Dixon is here to tell us all about it.</P>

During Monday morning's commissioners meeting, leaders approved submitting an application to participate in the State of Texas Hazard Mitigation Grant program, which could help dozens of county residents get the security of a storm shelter by paying up to half the costs.

Tornadoes, of whatever size and intensity, can be devastating like the twisters that ripped through the Dallas area last Tuesday.

When these strong storms do strike the safest place to ride them out is in in a storm shelter, but shelters are not in everyone's budget.

That's why Wichita County Commissioners are applying for a $300,000 Hazard Mitigation grant from the state.

If approved, officials say the money could help buy shelters for up to 100 Wichita County residents..

"The grant allows up to $3,000 for a home and they estimate those shelters normally at $6,000. It cannot be in a flood area when you're requesting it. We'll have to do a certification on it that it isn't," says Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom.

And Judge Gossom says once homeowners sign up for the assistance they would move on to the next step.

"They'd first of all have to make sure that we approve them to get it then we'll try to have a list of installers that would install everyone that's covered under this program. With our history here, it could provide your family a safe place to go instead of a shelter. But the first thing I want to make sure people do if they put one in... you need to be sure you register that with the emergency management officials so if it's within your structure and something falls on it... we know to look for it." Judge Gossom explains.

Judge Gossom expects to know whether Wichita County is approved for the grant about 30 days after the paperwork is filed.

Then, the next step would be for interested residents to sign up, which will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

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