One year after surprise January tornado, officials encourage safe rooms

Local News

Besides the winter tornado in our area, other parts of Ohio saw dozens of touchdowns last year

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Emergency Management Agency is offering rebates for homeowners getting a tornado safe room. This is the eighth year the state has done this and officials are hoping this incentive will help save lives.

A tornado siren is the last sound anyone wants to hear before a storm, but acting quickly and having a plan in place could make a huge difference.

“We talk a lot about having a meeting place during a disaster so having a safe room will actually be that meeting place,” said Linda Beil, with Trumbull County Emergency Management. “Everyone will have someplace to go so when they get there, they will be safe.”

The Ohio EMA referenced last May when Ohio saw 21 tornadoes rip through almost a dozen counties. Those tornadoes killed multiple people and caused millions of dollars in damage.

“With all the hurricane damages and some of the tornado damages like we had in ’85, if these people had someplace to go to be safe, it would save lives for sure,” Beil said.

There are some requirements to be eligible for the program:
– Safe rooms must be built in your house or as a standalone building near your home.
– The room must follow all Federal Emergency Management Agency standards.
– All federal and local codes must also be included in the building process.
– You can’t already be in the process of building a safe room — you must apply before you start.
– The total amount you get back is calculated through how much you spent. At the most, the state will rebate you 75% of the cost or a maximum of $4,875.

The Valley is no stranger to tornadoes. Local officials would rather people be safe than sorry.

“We had a tornado last year in January and there was no warning of it,” Beil said. “It was down and gone before the National Weather Service could even see that.”

WATCH: Viewer records video of January 2019 tornado in Cortland

MORE: Warren business owner captures photo while fishing during tornado warning last year

The Ohio EMA is accepting applications until April 6. If you’re interested in applying or need more information, you can find it on the EMA’s website.

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