COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- We're about to begin severe weather season in Ohio and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency is launching their program to help offset the cost of building a tornado safe room.
The program rebates up to 75 percent of the cost of construction, up to $5,250. This year's program will fund about 39 safe rooms with another nine homeowners from last year's rebate program.
"Essentially what we're paying for is a very small area of the house that the occupants can go into during a tornado event where they can get near absolute protection," said Steve Ferryman, Ohio EMA mitigation branch chief.
Safe rooms are either built into a house or in buried in the ground outside the home. They are able to withstand the most destructive winds Mother Nature can dish out.
“Not only is Ohio at risk of EF5 tornadoes, since as far back as 1968, the state has actually had nine,” said Ferryman. “EF5 tornadoes produce winds exceeding 200 mph and are capable of destroying most structures.”
Applicants are chosen at random. Ferryman says it's vital to wait until you know you have been selected before you start construction. The average safe room can cost between $6,000 and $11,000.
To apply for the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program, homeowners have until 5 p.m. April 18 to register on the Ohio EMA website.
Chosen homeowners will be notified by e-mail on or after April 22, 2014.
Funding for the rebate program is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program at a 75 percent cost share. Homeowners selected will be responsible for 25 percent of the costs and any additional costs over the maximum rebate of up to $5,250.
Construction must meet standards from both the state and federal governments.
Last year's program received more than 250 applications in the first week along. Ferryman expects similar demand this year.