OKMULGEE, Okla.- Muscogee (Creek) Nation Emergency Management Project Manager Robert Lay appeared on Mvskoke Radio on June 14. The discussion revolved around the application process, and eligibility regarding storm shelters provided by the nation.
The MCN received the FEMA grant to install storm shelters at no cost toward citizens. “We’re going to try to install as many storm shelters as we possibly can, we’re looking to try to get 200 of them this year and next year,” Lay said.
According to Lay, the storm shelters are going to be installed in October. Applications are currently open until August 31.
Lay’s department will be installing above-ground storm shelters. Their first priority is to install the shelters in the garage of a standard home unit. If that is not a feasible option, the shelters will be installed outside the residential home.
These models will provide easier access for citizens when they enter and exit the shelters.
“The storm shelters that we’re looking at are 4×4 and 4×6, depending on which size you get,” Lay said. “They house anywhere from possibly two to six people, so there’ll be plenty of room in there.”
These shelters are specifically used to help prevent injuries or tragedy when tornadoes arise in the area.
“I’ve looked over through the program pretty good and studied it. I think this is a great opportunity for our citizens to apply for a storm shelter that would benefit them,” Lay said.
The applicants are not based on a “first come, first serve” basis. There are requirements to be accepted. The program goes through a point system to help to narrow down the applications.
If you own a house or are a landowner, you will need proof and verification documents. Applications involving property rentals will not be accepted.
Through the FEMA grant there are limitations on the jurisdictions of the areas they are allowed to cover. It only applies to areas within reservation boundaries.
“If you live outside the boundaries I would ask you to reach out to your state officials, your Emergency Oklahoma Management or maybe your local government if you live outside the boundaries, there’s other avenues you can take,” Lay said. “Right now if you live outside the reservation boundaries we cannot offer you that service. Hopefully in the near future we can and that’s what we’re hoping for.”
The contractors building the storm shelters are required to provide them with impact testing.
“I have that much confidence in it, I think there’s a good chance that as long as the doors are latched like they should and maintaining maintenance,” Lay said. “Make sure you keep it accessible, make sure it’s empty, and you can get in it.”
In order to properly install the storm shelters, citizens are required to sign a form which will state the location of the shelter. The location will be entered through a GIS program. This will allow emergency management to locate the area of where the shelter will be placed.
According to Lay, if there was a tornado within your area, the GIS map will locate the storm shelter. They will then personally send someone to make sure all residents are safe and accounted for.
When a residential location has been selected for a shelter, Lay and his team will then come out and inspect the area to determine an appropriate spot to break ground. If there is not a way for the installation to be set up in the house’s garage, they will be placed outside. Lay said the ideal spot would be 25 feet within the exterior door, and it should not be placed in the front yard.
Where to Apply
To apply online for a storm shelter, visit the tribe’s camphouse portal.
All MCN citizens are eligible to create an online account. If issues arise with registration, there is a help button that will provide assistance.
A mail-in application is also available, the mailing address can be found at the bottom of the form.
For those selected to receive a storm shelter, they will be notified through email that will include attachment forms to be signed. The forms will need to be sent back to emergency management in order for the selected applicant’s name to be accounted for. For those that do not respond by email, they will receive a phone call to be notified that they have been selected to receive a shelter.
Although it is possible that not everyone who applies for a shelter will receive one this year, Lay explained that it does not hurt to apply nonetheless.
“I encourage all of our citizens if you own a home or if you’re making payments on a home, apply,” Lay said. “If you don’t get selected this year there’s always next year and just remember you’re probably more likely to get selected.”
For further questions or concerns about the storm shelter program, contact Robert Lay at 918-549-2701.