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Riverside’s town shelter was built with federal funds after Hurricane Katrina, but it is an example of a public shelter which protected 150 people April 27.

To prevent further loss of life in the event of future tornadoes and other natural disasters, FEMA has allocated federal money to aid communities and individuals in building their own storm shelters through a Hazard Mitigation Grant program.

Citizens in Argo, Ashville, Margaret, Moody, Odenville, Ragland, Riverside, Springville and Steele are encouraged to submit applications to their city or town clerk for reimbursement of funds paid to construct a safe room or shelter at one’s primary residence.

The city of Pell City will discuss whether or not they will participate in the program during the city council meeting Monday.

Shelters must meet FEMA specifications, which are available at www.fema.gov. Homeowners must pay for the cost up front, to be reimbursed by the grant. FEMA estimates the average cost of an individual safe room or shelter is between $4,500 and $6,500, 70 percent of which can be reimbursed. There is a $4,000 maximum on reimbursements.

St. Clair County is also participating in the individual grant program, so those in unincorporated areas may also participate.

In addition, Argo, Ashville, Margaret, Odenville, Pell City, Ragland, Springville and Steele are also pursuing funds through the grant to construct community storm shelters.

For more information, contact your city clerk, or the county clerk for those living in unincorporated St. Clair County. 

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