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May 15, 2014

Red Cross awards $6.5 million in grants for storm shelters

OKLA. CITY — The American Red Cross is awarding $6.5 million in new grants to  communities in Oklahoma to help homeowners affected by last May’s tornadoes install new storm shelters.

Thursday’s announcement brings the total amount awarded by the Red Cross for storm shelters to $10.3 million for affected Oklahoma areas, which should support installation of as many as 4,000 shelters.

The latest Red Cross grants are for the purchase and installation of individual storm shelters to help people become safer in the face of future disasters. Oklahoma municipalities, counties, and tribes receiving the Red Cross grants include the City of Newcastle, City of Midwest City, City of Norman, Pottawatomie County (program administered by the City of Shawnee), Cleveland County, Canadian County, the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma and Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

The Red Cross is currently working on agreements to provide storm shelter grants to at least three other municipalities, counties and or tribes in the storm affected areas for a portion of the $6.5 million in new grants.

The specific shelter programs are fully administered by the community receiving the grant. To qualify for Red Cross funding in communities in the program, shelters must meet or exceed FEMA standards.

“Having the opportunity to protect and prepare the families of Oklahoma is one of the goals of the Red Cross,” said Janienne Bella, CEO of the Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma. “Recovery from these devastating tornadoes and floods takes time and help, and we know these grants will move many communities in our area further along that continuum of recovery with one less thing they need to worry about so they can focus on getting back on their feet.”

“Last year’s storms in Pottawatomie and Oklahoma County tore through our tribal jurisdiction, destroying the homes of many of our members and non-tribal neighbors,” said Linda Capps, vice chairman of Citizen Potawatomi Nation. “We can’t thank the Red Cross enough for helping us provide storm shelters for 80 households in our jurisdiction with the CPN Residential Storm Shelter Program. As Oklahomans, we know that at some point, shelter form the storm is inevitable.”

In addition to the grants announced Thursday, the Red Cross in January provided a grant of $3.75 million to the City of Moore for a homeowner shelter installation program for up to 1,500 storm shelters in homes throughout that community. The Red Cross also has provided a $48,000 grant to Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity for the purchase and installation of 20 storm shelters in new homes built by Habitat for storm-affected people.

The powerful tornadoes and storms that struck central Oklahoma in May 2013 devastated homes, destroyed two elementary schools in the city of Moore and inflicted heartbreaking losses on families and communities throughout the region. The storms caused billions of dollars of damage across 18 counties in the state.

The Red Cross has spent or made commitments to spend $48.1 million for Oklahoma emergency relief and recovery programs, nearly 92 percent of the $52.4 million donated to the Red Cross for Oklahoma. The remaining donations will go to support recovery and resilience efforts in the affected Oklahoma communities.

TO LEARN MORE, go online to www.redcross.org/okc.

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