The Norman Transcript

News Features

June 8, 2013

Q&A with Oklahoma emergency management director

(Continued)

NORMAN —

A: After each one of these disasters, we have a series of after-action meetings and reports. We pull our partners in. We talk about what we did well, and what we could do better. We’re always going to come up with many, many new things. We’re still in the middle of that process.

Q: Have you made any specific recommendations to the governor?

A: We’re very interested in trying to develop a school safe-room program. The standard grants that we’ve used for safe rooms in the past are not going to put a safe room in every school very quickly.

Q: What would put safe rooms in every school quickly?

A: A new proposal that’s innovative, that’s something different, that hasn’t been seen anywhere in the nation that leverages not just grants from FEMA but grants from other federal agencies, private funds, state funds, perhaps bond issues by local school districts. We have to have something that leverages all of the various monies that we can find and makes it an incentive for the local school districts to do it.

Q: Would your agency take the lead?

A: I’m trying to. We would be the obvious choice right now. Disasters are basically what we do. We’ve had a couple of initial meetings. The federal government is 100 percent on board to try to make this happen … I’ve already talked to the governor about this proposal, and she’s interested in the discussion.

Q: Would this be limited to school shelters?

A: Strictly schools. We still want the individual to take the incentive to put a shelter in for themselves and their family. We have to be very careful with the individual program. We don’t want it to ever turn into a program where basically no one puts in a shelter unless the government funds it.

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