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"

By Natasha Lennard
May 21, 2013 11:30PM (UTC)
main article image
Destroyed buildings and overturned cars are seen after a huge tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, near Oklahoma City, May 20, 2013. (Reuters/Richard Rowe)

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:


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.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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

MORE FROM Natasha LennardFOLLOW natashalennardLIKE Natasha Lennard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Federal Funds Fema Moore Natural Disasters Oklahoma Safe Rooms Tornado Video