Legislators Mull Park Evacuation Plan Proposal

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February 17, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

New legislation before the Oklahoma House of Representatives would affect RV park and mobile home park owners and their residents, according to KFSM-TV, Fort Smith/Fayetteville, Ark.

The bill's sponsor, State Rep. Pat Owneby, says it was inspired by a severe storm that struck Lone Grove, Okla., a year ago. "We had a tornado that tore through a mobile home park that killed 7 of 8 people who died that night," he said.

Ownbey says he and emergency management officials believe lives could have been saved.

"The bill requires the owners of mobile home and RV parks to share an evacuation plan with their tenants, he said.

The bill has passed out of a house committee and will go to the floor for a full house vote as early as this week.  Ownbey believes it will pass. Mobile home dealer and park owner Tony Fiorentine says he and others in the Manufactured Home Association of Oklahoma share Ownbey's concern for the safety of their tenants.

"I think everybody needs to be aware of the weather around them and make a plan. Now as to the specific bill, if it's just a plan, sure I would be happy to help my tenants with a plan and tell them where to go and what to do," Fiorentine said.

Still, some of them are wary of the bill worried that it could require them to build costly shelters. The representative says that's not the case. He merely wants them to come up with a plan developed with and approved by emergency management officials. It would be re-evaluated every five to seven years.

Ownbey says there is support in the legislature for the bill. He hopes in the future to offer 50% tax credits for park owners who install shelters. But like other states, Oklahoma is working on a tight budget and it will have to wait.

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