Andres Castillo Soto, South Oklahoma City


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Context: Castillo Soto said the first thing he noticed when he moved from Kansas City is that few people in his neighborhood have basements or storm shelters, especially those in low-income apartments. Castillo Soto said that’s a scary realization when living in the heart of Tornado Alley.


Frank Barnes, Oklahoma City Emergency Manager


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Context: Barnes said Oklahoma City has never had designated tornado shelters, and will not have any in the near future. Instead, the city is focused on helping people learn how to take shelter in their homes, which Barnes said is safer and cheaper. Barnes estimated building enough city-run shelters to accommodate each resident would cost between $500 million and $1 billion, based on construction costs in other cities.

A Deeper Look:

Luck of the Draw

An examination of two random state lotteries since 2012 that awarded rebates to residents to help them pay to install home storm shelters found uneven distribution. At the time, about 750 Oklahomans had won the federally funded grants of up to $2,000, distributed throughout the state. The map below shows that few of those rebates went to residents in low-income neighborhoods. The state does not offer shelter subsidies based on income or net worth or to owners of rental properties. Residents in the higher-income suburb of Edmond, north of Oklahoma City, won a disproportionately large share of the awards.

Storm Shelter Rebates - OKC

Source: Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

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