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Safe Room Rebate Program Closed After Less Than 5 Hours

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - It was a touted as program to help some North Texas residents foot the bill for storm shelters and safe rooms, but few people knew how few reservations were available and apparently even fewer predicted how quickly the spots would be snapped up.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) announced that they, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), would be administering the Metro Safe Room Rebate Program offering grants as much as $3,000 to cover up to half of the cost of the installation and construction of safe rooms.

The online rebate application process opened at 1:15 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5 and was shut down at 5:30 a.m.  Officials with the NCTCOG said the program was closed after a little more than four hours because of the "high volume of applications received."

It turns out there were only 400 grants available for eligible applicants in all of Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant County -- 100 in each county. In the short span that the online portal was open there were 825 grant applications.

With the recent deadly tornadoes that tore through North Texas and Oklahoma, more people are thinking about in stalling storm shelters or safe rooms. Before the online application process opened Emergency Preparedness Program Assistant Nora Castaneda even said, "I've had hundreds, if not thousands, of phone calls and inquiries, total. People are looking to jump on this opportunity."

NCTCOG officials say they will assess all submitted applications and remove duplicates and ineligible applicants.

There may still be hope that a limited number of North Texans can get grant approval in the future. The NCTCOG will open the application portal again n two weeks. When that happens residents will be able to place their name on a waiting list for the program.

When, and if, more Metro Safe Room Rebate Program grant money becomes available approved applicants on the waitlist will be notified of their acceptance to the program on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Administrators say the list will help assess the amount of demand for the program when the NCTCOG applies for additional federal funding.

In a press release statement NCTCOG official said they have, "…learned a lot through this initial application phase and will work to implement solutions from lessons learned."

It was just three weeks ago that more than a dozen tornadoes swept across North Texas, killing six people and causing millions of dollars in damage. The twister that touched down in Granbury – an EF-4 – was the most powerful tornado to hit North Texas in 20 years.

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