Tornado Shelter Legislation Killed in Oklahoma Senate

May 12, 2010

The Oklahoma Senate has killed a bill that would have required owners of mobile and RV parks to provide tenants with a plan to seek shelter.

The bill’s author, State Rep. Pat Ownbey, praised a mobile home park south of Norman that was damaged by a tornado on May 10 for having a plan in place for severe weather. He said the provisions in House Bill 2835 would have benefited every mobile and RV park in the state.

Ownbey, an Ardmore legislator, said he “wrote this legislation because of a Lone Grove tornado that resulted in the deaths of several individuals who lived in mobile homes. These homes are particularly vulnerable and my legislation could save lives in the future at no cost to the state.”

David Barnes, Oklahoma County Emergency Management Director, has developed a severe weather plan that could serve as a template for mobile home and RV park owners if the legislation were to become law.

The plan includes having a source of information in severe weather, knowing where and what routes to take to seek shelter, and making sure that shelter will be available. The legislation requires that the plan be developed with the assistance of the municipality or county where the mobile home or RV park is located or the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Ownbey said that while representatives of the manufactured homes industry have worked with him on the legislation, they lobbied against it when it arrived in the Oklahoma Senate.

“I am very disappointed in their opposition to this legislation,” Ownbey said. “Almost every mobile home park owner I have talked to was supportive of this bill. It is compromise legislation that is easy to implement and that could save lives. If I had filed legislation requiring that a shelter be provided, then I would understand opposition to the bill. The concern of those involved in manufactured homes seems petty compared to the lives it could save.”

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives

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