Need a storm shelter? How to apply for FEMA grants

In an effort to prevent storm damage and loss of life, FEMA makes it possible for tornado-prone areas to access grant money to cover storm-shelter costs—often paying as much as 75 percent of the structure.

Here are a few helpful things to know before beginning the application process, according to

  • The Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program was developed to be proactive. According to, “Mitigation planning is a key process used to break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. PDM grants are funded annually by Congressional appropriations and are awarded on a nationally competitive basis.”
  • The maximum federal share for a mitigation project, like a storm shelter, is $4 million. Federal funding is available for as much as 75 percent of eligible costs; however, small impoverished communities may be eligible for as much as 90 percent Federal cost share.
  • For most of the storm shelters Dome Technology builds, grant money covers 75 percent of the cost of the shell; this requires the balance plus interior finishing to be funded in other ways.
  • Before grant money will be awarded, FEMA must approve the plan. FEMA makes funding decisions based on most effective use of grant funds.
  • States, federally-recognized tribes, and local governments are all eligible to apply for grant monies, but applying requires planning ahead. For instance, local governments are considered subapplicants and must submit project applications to their state during the open application cycle. From there, the state prioritizes applications and forwards them to FEMA. The Fiscal Year 2018 application cycle was Oct. 1, 2018, through Jan. 31, 2019. The dates for Fiscal Year 2019 have yet to be released but will be shared here when available.
  • In FY 2018, $235.2 million was available to assist state, tribal territorial, and local governments through this program. As a rule, $15 million is set aside for Native American Tribal applicants; the remainder of PDM Grant program funds are distributed to eligible applicants.
  • FEMA publishes an annual fact sheet highlighting the agency’s priorities for the year. This document is called “TY 2018 PDM Fact Sheet” and can be accessed online here.