The Norman Transcript

News Features

June 8, 2013

Q&A with Oklahoma emergency management director

(Continued)

NORMAN —

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.

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