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Storm Shelter Program Coming to an End as Severe Storm Season Gets Underway

A program that provides financial assistance for Wichita County residents to build storm shelters is coming to an end as severe storm season in Texoma gets underway.
One year ago, EF-5 tornado plowed through Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people and injuring more than 350 others.

Seeing the devastation a tornado left in Moore, Oklahoma caused Wichita County residents to rush to get their names on the list for the storm shelter program.

That program provides financial assistance for residents to build storm shelters and this fall it is coming to an end.

Tornadoes and funnels are not a rare sight in Texoma in the springtime, but no matter how often they may be seen, the fear and worry never lessens for those in their paths.

That's why in November 2012, Wichita County officials received approval  for a government subsidy program for storm shelters.

Jared Burchett of Burkburnett is one of the approved applicants.

"It's free money.  Fifty fifty.  You can pay for the shelter out of your pocket and then they reimburse you the 50% of what it's worth," says Burchett.

Judge Woody Gossom says the county received approval for 200 shelters.

"Then we went back to them and said people aren't spending their whole allocation so can we take the residual money and put it in and they have let us do that.  So we're gonna build somewhere around 230 shelters, probably altogether," says Judge Gossom.

But Gossom says dozens who were approved for the program have delayed  getting their storm shelters installed,  while others are on a long waiting list for assistance.
So, his office is now sending out this letter.

"We told people make up your mind or you're coming off," Judge Gossom says.

Jared Burchett says he didn't waste time getting his shelter installed.

And earlier this month, his family was in that shelter  when a tornado touched down in Burkburnett.

Although he was at work he was thankful his family could seek shelter from the storm.

"Everybody used it and was ready to go so, I had a little sense of ease at work knowing they were gonna be safe and guarded," Burchett says.

Judge Gossom says out of nearly 500 applicants 207 people now have storm shelters and are waiting for reimbursement while nearly 300 names remain on the waiting list.
And that program ends in November.
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