By Ashley Conroy
MADISON CO., MS (WLBT) -- Two and a half months after the destructive tornadoes ripped across the state, federal grants for "safe room" shelters are now available for residents in 13 different counties affected by the April 24th tornado.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is now accepting applications for these grants to help expedite the process.
"We hope people take advantage of this opportunity to help protect themselves from future storms." MEMA Director Mike Womack said in a statement issued by MEMA.
This grant money will be issued through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Mississippians who apply for this grant will receive $4,000 dollars in return for their payment on these storm shelters.
MEMA Spokesperson, Greg Flynn said in years past, people would have to go through their county to apply for these grants, but now the process should move quicker.
"They'll go over those applications, get approval, send them up to FEMA. And be able to get people their money back. And hopefully a lot faster than it has been in the past."
These grants are set up on a first-come first-serve basis where residents in those counties affected by the storm will get the reimbursement first.
However, Flynn says if there is money left over, then that money will go to residents in other counties in the state.
"It will depend upon the amount of interest. How many applications we get will determine if other counties are going to be open."
Leslie Tullos and her husband David Tullos own A Plus Tornado Shelters and Saferooms of Jackson.
Tullos says they began their business after a close encounter with a tornado years ago.
"In the bathtub with pillows and blankets, praying, my husband said 'this is crazy, we can afford a shelter I'm going to get us a shelter.'"
Since then they have sold thousands of underground shelters and above ground safe rooms to people around the state.
As the economy has declined, Tullos says more and more people who want a "safe room" often say they can't afford one.
"Amazingly a lot of people who have been calling us can't afford our shelters, and it breaks our heart."
Safety is priority for her and her family, and that is exactly what she wants to help others achieve.
"This is about people who are able to get safety."
For more information on how to apply for this grant go to: www.msema.org.
For more information about "A Plus Tornado Shelters and Saferooms of Jackson" go to: www.tornadosheltersofjackson.com or call at: (601) 624-7718.