Families seek tornado shelter grants

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 11, 2003

Four Lincoln County families recovering from a tornado thatripped through the area in April are hoping to benefit from afederal storm shelter program, according to officials.

County Administrator David Fields said he has requested $17,715through the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal EmergencyManagement Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for safe roomsor storm shelters.

“These funds will be used by the state to reimburse up to 75percent of the eligible cost of individuals installing safe roomsor shelters,” he said.

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Dana Scroggs and her husband, Leroy, of 2707 Old Church Driveare taking advantage of the program to build an underground stormshelter beside the back door of their house. The family lost theirhome in the April tornado.

“We were never really scared of weather until this happened,”Dana said. “Since then, we’ve gotten a weather radio and pay moreattention. We didn’t even know it was coming.”

She and her husband were home when the storm hit, she said. Theyfelt the rumble of the tornado and ducked into a hallway justseconds before the tornado struck.

“I could feel the floor rippling underneath me,” Dana said. “Theonly thing the tornado left was the hallway we were in.”

The family is building the underground shelter regardless ofwhether or not they are approved for the grant, she said. Sheestimated the cost of the nine-person shelter at about $4,800.

Each applicant can be reimbursed up to $3,500 for single familyshelters or $5,000 for group shelters, such as at churches.

The shelter will be used by the Scroggses and their daughter,who lives with them. It will also be used by their son, along withhis wife and daughter, who live next door.

Fields said he had hoped more residents in the affected areawould apply for the grant.

“I’m not sure we’ll get it with only four families applying, andI told them that, but we’ll turn it in and see what happens,” hesaid.

Fields said he and Supervisor Gary Walker carried applicationswith them and spoke to residents in the area to promote the grant,but only four families applied for the program. There were no groupapplicants.

Eugene Banks said his family was taking advantage of theprogram, but added that he felt many residents of the area did notknow of its existence until after the deadline had passed.

“I think there would have been more participation if they hadknown,” Banks said. “I hope the federal government doesn’t penalizeus by not approving our applications because only four familiesparticipated.”

Residents qualified for the grant because of the amount ofdamage sustained when a tornado tore through northern LincolnCounty in April causing damage in a 10-mile path from Caseyville toWesson.

The tornado was classified as an F2. There are five categoriesof tornadoes, ranging from F1 to F5. Wind speed and damageestimates are factors in categorizing tornadoes.