The Norman Transcript

News Features

June 8, 2013

Q&A with Oklahoma emergency management director



Q: Do existing building codes have tough enough standards when it comes to tornadoes?

A: We need to look at that. A lot of people are reluctant about changing building codes. I fully understand why. You don’t want to increase the cost of construction to make it where people don’t want to do new construction. At the same time, I think there are some things we can look at … safety features … that make a lot of sense.

Mandating doesn’t really work. Telling people what they have to do is not nearly as good as getting them on board as part of the solution.

Q: Why hasn’t the state compiled an accurate inventory of schools with shelters before now?

A: That’s probably something that no one took the lead in. We probably should have done that. We are going to work now.

What we did in the past or didn’t do in the past probably was based on the last disasters that we had and where the damages were, which were usually in residential areas. Schools were very seldom hit. It’s human nature that we usually solve the last disaster.

Q: If someone wants to add a home shelter, does it make sense for them to try to participate in the SoonerSafe lottery program?

A: This is what I tell folks: It doesn’t hurt to apply. But that shouldn’t be the basis of your decision. We don’t want you to shoot for the rebate. To wait for the rebate is a bad idea.

Q: Why wasn’t the SoonerSafe program set up to channel money to the people who were most financially in need?

A: Because we don’t want to get into case management. We would have to hire people to do that means test. If you have to verify and validate, you’re going to end up spending more money in administration than you actually do in providing safe room rebates.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
News Features
  • March Against Monsanto Protesters rally against agro giant Monsanto

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Rain did not deter protesters at the March Against Monsanto in Bricktown on Saturday evening. A button on one man’s shirt was typical of the attitude of many of the marchers, “I’m one of those people,” it read....

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moore Med Cent Groundbreaking Community still grieving but looking toward future, new beginnings

    MOORE — One year after an EF-5 tornado devastated a core area of Moore that included the Moore Medical Center, the community gathered on the site of the former hospital to reflect and remember those who were lost....

    May 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple mourns loss of young lives

    When the tornado hit, Dennis and Wilma Chastain were holding hands. On May 20, 2013, the couple left their home in south Oklahoma City in Green Briar Estates near Westmoore High School around 2 p.m. to make it to a 2:30 appointment near ...

    May 20, 2014

  • Interfaith group invites women to join

    Women of a variety of faiths brought prayers and dinner and shared peaceful dialogue recently at a Norman home. Malaka Elyazgi’s prayer sounded like a song tripping off her lips in her native tongue. The translation was equally poetic....

    April 28, 2014

  • DUal-state advance Tough field awaits Southmoore at dual state

    Southmoore’s history at Dual State is a short read. The totality of it is a first-round loss to eventual runner-up Muskogee by one point in last year’s tournament.

    February 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Myths about obesity

    The obesity epidemic is among the most critical health issues facing the United States. Although it has generated a lot of attention and calls for solutions, it also has served up a super-sized portion of myths and misunderstandings....

    December 28, 2013

  • How to tame an out-of-control kid

    Edith, a retired Capitol Hill staffer from Washington, was at the end of her rope last year over the mayhem her 5-year-old great-grandson Wayne was causing at preschool. “I was on speed dial” at the school, says Edith, who is raising two ...

    December 28, 2013

  • Experts decry ‘resolution dependency’

    One of the country’s best-known fitness center chains is launching an initiative to wean people from what it calls an over-dependence on New Year’s resolutions....

    December 26, 2013

  • The 12 annoying songs of Christmas

    It’s that time of year, when Christmas songs fill shops, restaurants and your home. While anything on repeat can drive you mad, these 12 tunes are some of the most annoying....

    December 8, 2013

  • Caring for a cut Christmas tree

    Cut Christmas trees must be watered and kept hydrated to last through the holidays and to prevent them from becoming fire hazards. This includes small tabletop trees....

    December 8, 2013