"You had to be underground," The Weather Channel´s Mike Bettes put it, "in order to survive this tornado." He was not exaggerating. The massive storm that hit Moore, Oklahoma yesterday -- featuring winds up to 200mph -- didn´t simply put those aboveground at risk of being swept up in its funnel. The tornado also took the smallest objects of everyday life -- down to pebbles and even dust -- and effectively converted them into bullets and shrapnel. Much of the carnage that so often results from tornadoes is the result of a terrible phenomenon known by an appropriately terrible
Comments: The short answer: The kind of soil there makes it almost impossible for houses to have basements. And other things.
One of the first things the early settlers did was dig a cellar and line it with stone. The cellars were used primarily for food storage, but also shelter from storms. People always think that it can´t happen to me and that I´ll have time to seek shelter somewhere else.
My curiosity got the best of me, and I did read the (amazingly short for the Atlantic) article. My answer stands, and OP is correct. The soil makes it difficult to sustain storm shelters. They can be done, but at significant expense and trouble. And most people don´t want to go to that much expense and trouble.
We put an 8 x 10 storm shelter in one half of the garage when we moved back to hurricane country. It´s certified by Texas Tech (referred to in the article) to withstand 250 mph winds. In coastal South Carolina, tornadoes do happen but they are "mild" tornadoes because we don´t have the weather conditions and geography that would produce something like Oklahoma tornadoes. But we built it as a hurricane shelter or safe room anyway.
The shelter is above ground and bolted (with many pounds of huge bolts!) into the concrete slab. I understand that might not have been enough to provide safe shelter for those in Moore. But, unlike a hurricane shelter needed for many hours, a smaller, short-term tornado shelter ought to be affordable for those with a doomer perspective (like me). We don´t have an expensive car or big-screen TVs and we don´t go on long or long-distance vacations. But we do have that bit of insurance in the garage. We were informed that it will withstand small-arms fire too, btw.
The shelter went in nine years ago and we haven´t needed it yet. I hope we never will. But in the meantime it gives us peace of mind and provides a great pantry and emergency supplies storage area. Oh and it has two bunk beds--and, yes, we have had guests sleep in there!
Had you read the article, #2, you would find that it isn´t that simple. The soil in many parts of Tornado Alley don´t make safe underground cellars possible without risking collapse of the house on top of it (even without a direct hit by a tornado). Given the enormous number of people affected in Moore, they were clearly doing something right or far more would have perished.
The soil is stone like but do any of you know what those things cost? More than we can afford. Yes, I know, life and all that but the bottom line is you have to pay for it to be installed and some just can´t do it.
I would suggest that every home rebuilt in Moore have a shelter installed as the house goes up. Adding $10,000 to the cost of a house, and I´m sure any contractor could strike a deal with shelter makers and get them for less, would be easier to finance over a 30 year period of the loan.
Wouldn´t an earth berm on the west side help? That would use the soil as a deflection barrier and be next to nothing to construct when prepping the foundation for a new house. Extend it on to the roof and you would incorporate a feature of the early sod homes settlers used to live in.
Reply 9 - Posted by:
Kelly White, 5/22/2013 7:57:05 AM (No. 9339176)
I am 50 years and have lived in Central Oklahoma my whole life. I have never yet physically seen a tornado with my own eyes. Life is about risks. I´ve never had a storm shelter. I might get killed in a tornado. Then again, I might get killed in a car, or by cancer, or by ... We all measure risks and live accordingly. If I wanted a storm shelter I´d have one. I take that risk. We´re just fine here in Oklahoma. Leave us alone.
Don´t worry- the gubmint will mandate a storm cellar in every new house being built or any addition to an existing home. Not unlike the head of the NTSA I heard on CSPAN the other day. She´s pushing for a blow-tube device of some sort as standard equipment in every new car within the next five years. Vehicle will not start if your BAC is .05 or greater.
I grew up in Tulsa with a "Fraidy Hole" 25 steps from the back door. It was a cement lined hole in the ground, with a cement lid that took three strong men and a midget to lift. It held Ball jars and spiders, and us when the sky turned black and things got quiet.
I expect the thing didn´t cost more than a hundred dollars and back breaking some work with a shovel.
I´m not sure you have to spend an arm and a leg to be safe if you live in Tornado Alley.
Hear, hear #9! I leve in East Central Oklahoma since 2006 when I moved from Pennsylvania. I listened to the arguements for a shelter. I still don´t have one.
The reality in this "flyover" state is that there is little extra money. And that a shelter is usually made from pre-poured concrete and costs $3,000 not including the install and digging the big hole to put it in. I need to use that money to keep the water and elecric on.
i guess same reason why people don´t have earthquake and fire proof homes in California, Oregon, and Alaska; why they don´t have hurricane proof homes on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts; why they don´t have flood proof homes along the big rivers and still live below dams; why they think that cops will be there in the seconds that the gunman or bomber turns his attention somewhere - diaster will never happen to them personally, so why spend the money or effort to prepare for it.
Do an internet search (bing.com) and you can find any number of companies that make small to large shelters...they dig a hole and drop it in....they might cost a bit, but how do you measure the worth of a life?
My dad´s farm had a small shelter in north central OK and my mom´s house in Tulsa had a basement - one tornado hit nearby and we had neighbors over in the basement when it happened. But #9 is right. It´s a risk assessment, and most people are better off making sure the money is spent making sure their cars are safe and the wiring in their houses is sound.
I worked in Manhattan on Sept 11 and my then young son asked if I wanted to be safe why I continued to commute there for work and I told him my safety was very important and that´s why I fasten my seatbelt and I don´t smoke cigarettes.
Any money that would go to storm shelters takes away from something else and that something else may be a safety item that is used all the time. You try to prioritize risks rationally and sometimes relatively remote risks still come to pass. The money spent on advance tornado warnings still saves far more people than storm shelters do.
I live in Moore, OK. When I built my current home in 2000, we had a steel reinforced concrete storm shelter (bunker half in-ground) built in the back yard just outside my back patio. It cost $2,000 total, which we were then reimbursed for by the fed´l government (sweet). These are very common in OKC area, and still not that costly...well worth the price and protection.
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