LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) — Seven months since tornadoes destroyed homes and lives across Lee County, the question now becomes, what happens next time?
Tuesday, Lee County Emergency Management held its first info session helping residents apply for a new home weather shelter grant from FEMA.
“We hope to get a lot of the individual saferooms out there and close to people so that they can go on with their lives and be comfortable that when that balloon goes up, they’ve got that shelter at hand,” says Lee County EMA Director Kathy Carson
FEMA awarded Lee County with the grant Wednesday, October 2. Applicants can have 75 percent of their home storm shelter construction costs covered. but the price tag is still a problem.
“One of the difficulties is that it has to be paid upfront — the whole thing. They get a letter that says they have the grant, then they have to write a check and install the storm shelter, and send all the documentation, we send it all in for them to FEMA, and then they get reimbursement back, Carson explains to News 3’s Mikhaela Singleton.
“A lot of the folks, especially in communities like Beauregard and Smiths Station, can’t afford that several thousand dollars. So we’re going to look at ways to maybe try to change that, to allow these folks to go ahead and get that money or to do something to where the money can be paid for as they go,” responded Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.
Senator Jones made his third visit to Opelika since the storms to check up on recovery.
“We’re trying to think outside the box a little bit. That’s another reason I keep coming back — check in on the progress, but also to see what we’re missing, what is it we can do to try to help down the road for the next one and we will have another disaster in Alabama,” Jones says.
Lee County will hold regular information sessions to help storm victims apply until the December 2nd deadline. Find more information on applying for the FEMA home shelter build grant here.