Red Cross $2 Million Grant for Storm Shelters

The American Red Cross is providing residents of Oklahoma City with $2 million in grants to pay for the installation of storm shelters. Learn how your community can use financial assistance to prepare for natural disasters

What Happened?

The American Red Cross announced a $2 million grant to Oklahoma City residents to fund new storm shelter installations. The grant will be used as a rebate program for qualifying homeowners, providing $2,500 for each household.


The American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma has made $2.075 million available to support the purchase and implementation of new storm shelters for homeowners in Oklahoma City. The $2.075 million grant is part of the $10.3 million in support the Red Cross has awarded to communities affected by tornadoes. The overall goal is to help finance 4,000 storm shelters in these select communities.

Households can apply for the $2,500 grant to help cover the costs of the shelters, which range from $2,000 to $8,000 per house. The grant will be awarded to 830 households, selected through an electronic lottery.

Who Gets the Grants?

The grants are made available in response to the severe tornadoes that swept through Oklahoma City this past May. The city’s 5 th Ward was hit the hardest by the storms, therefore 400 of the 830 households selected through the lottery will come from this neighborhood. In each of the remaining seven wards in the city, 61 households will be selected for the shelter reimbursement.

The Red Cross will give special consideration to homeowners who had their properties destroyed in May, or damaged enough to be demolished. Even if the residents have already installed a storm shelter, they are eligible for the grants.

Storm shelters must meet or exceed FEMA guidelines to be eligible for reimbursement.  All grant recipients will have nine months to install the storm shelters once the lottery selection is complete.

Creating a Safe Place

The Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ) broke down a number of federal grants available for communities and individual homeowners seeking assistance with the installation of a storm shelter or safe room:
  • Community Development Block Grant Funds
  • FHA Mortgage Insured Financing
  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funds
  • Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program Funds

A safe room is a shelter either above or below ground that can protect a household from a tornado or other severe storm. Hurricane shelters should be larger than tornado shelters as they typically house occupants for longer periods of time. According to FEMA guidelines, a safe room should provide:

  • 3 square feet per residential tornado safe room occupant
  • 7 square feet per residential hurricane safe room occupant
  • Extra space per occupant in the case of wheelchair or bedridden residents ranging 10 to 20 square feet

While the cost of a safe room can vary based on size of the shelter, materials used, location on the property and added amenities, a typical residential shelter will total around $5,000.

FEMA also outlines specifics for community safe rooms that are designed to accommodate a larger number of occupants and be built out of public buildings such as libraries or community centers. Community center safe rooms should be installed outside of coastal high hazard areas, locations seaward of the limit of moderate wave action or in floodways.

Warding Off Disaster

Gov1 has kept track of several funding opportunities for communities regularly impacted by natural disasters including the National Disaster Resilience Competition .

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