Destroyed buildings and overturned cars are seen after a huge tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, near Oklahoma City, May 20, 2013. (Reuters/Richard Rowe)

Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape

$2 million in federal grants were delayed, FEMA requirements "a constantly moving target"


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Natasha Lennard
May 21, 2013 11:30PM (UTC)

Officials in Moore, the Oklahoma City suburb devastated by a tornado Monday, complained earlier this year that federal grant funds that were intended to build "safe rooms" in the tornado-struck region were delayed.  Plaza Towers and Briarwood elementary schools, both leveled by the twister, were both without safe rooms, despite their precarious location. As a result, seven children (of nine total) were found dead in school buildings.

NBC's Investigative Editor Mark Schone reported:

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Officials in the Oklahoma City suburb ravaged by deadly tornadoes Monday complained in February that $2 million in federal grants to pay for “safe rooms” in 800 homes had been delayed by a shortage of funding and FEMA requirements that were a “constantly moving target.”

“Our countywide Hazard Mitigation Plan still has not been approved by the State and FEMA,” said a statement  on the City of Moore’s website. It said that changes to federal requirements occurred while the city’s contractor was preparing the plan, adding, “We’ve found that the FEMA requirements …  seem to be a constantly moving target.”

A spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency told NBC News the agency is “looking into” the city’s claim about delays.

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Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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