Tornado Saferooms and Storm Shelters

The information below is shared by the State Mitigation Hazard Officer. 

Community Safe Rooms and Storm Shelters

Community tornado safe rooms and storm shelters are eligible projects under FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). Safe rooms must be “designed to achieve ‘near-absolute protection’ as described in the latest published edition of FEMA Publication P-361 Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes. Safe room sizing from FEMA’s 2023 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program and Policy Guide, page 447 available on FEMA's website.  The Safe Room section begins on page 439.

From the guidance, Hazard Mitigation Assistance Safe Room Minimum Usable Floor Area per Safe Room Occupant is the following:

  • Tornado Community Safe Room
    • Standing or Seated Occupant is 5
    • Wheelchair User is 10
    • Relocated to a Bed or Stretcher Occupants is 30
  • Hurricane Community Safe Room
    • Standing or Seated is 20
    • Wheelchair User is 20
    • Relocated to a Bed or Stretcher is 40
  • Tornado Residential Safe Room
    • One and Two Family Dwelling is 3
    • Other Residential is 5
  • Hurricane Residential Safe Room
    • One and Two Family Dwelling is 7
    • Other Residential is 10
  • Please note that for community safe rooms, at least one wheelchair user-sized space is required for every 200 occupants or portion.

Additional information about safe rooms is available on the FEMA Safe Rooms webpage.

Residential Safe Rooms and Storm Shelters

Residential safe rooms and shelters must comply with the same FEMA guidelines as community safe rooms and shelters as outlined above. Please note that these project applications are technically and time intensive. For individual homeowners looking to apply, the first step is to get your local government to agree to apply on your behalf; homeowners aren’t eligible to apply directly to DHSEM. Local governments (tribes, counties, incorporated municipalities and special districts) with a FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan are eligible to apply to DHSEM. You can find your community’s Hazard Mitigation Plan status on the DHSEM website.

If FEMA selects your project for funding, DHSEM will reimburse up to 75 percent of the project costs. Communities and homeowners cannot begin any physical work on the project until they receive an executed grant agreement with DHSEM following the FEMA award. FEMA awards typically occur 12-24 months after they receive the application. For more information regarding timelines and available funding please contact the State Hazard Mitigation Officer.