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Old 09-20-2009, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Not on the same page as most
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Hi,

For those of you in rural tornado-prone areas, if you have a storm shelter, could you please describe what kind you have and if you are satisified with it. I guess if you're posting, it's been working well, so far. Have you ever ridden out a tornado in your storm shelter. Are the separate in-ground storm shelters better, or the in-the-basement type, or ones which are free standing above-ground, or? I would love to hear personal experiences.
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Old 09-20-2009, 09:06 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,511 posts, read 55,435,808 times
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We inherited one that a previous owner had built. Although it would undoubtedly do the job, it has water on the floor much of the time, a low ceiling, and is adored by the mud daubbers (which I like, because they eat black widow spiders). The big issue is that it is in the middle of a field and not anywhere near the house. I can't believe how many people make this mistake when siting a shelter. In the middle of a driving rainstorm, you're going to rush out into the open, get drenched, risk being blown away, and then wait in a shelter (away from tv and radar, now that all the cheap portables no longer work) until the all clear? Maybe fifty years ago the farmers would do this, but only a few people would make the effort now. They'll sit inside watching the tv until it is too late.

Tornado warnings are another big issue. Those weather radios that everyone is supposed to get? What a FARCE! The warnings go off for EVERYTHING. "There is a heavy rainstorm with lightning in the area. Go indoors and stay away from windows." What are you, my friggin mother? Even she had the common sense to just tell me ONCE, and not every single storm. Another non-favorite of mine is "Flooding in low lying areas may be possible. Do not drive into standing water." Fer Pete sake, LET 'EM drive into standing water and let Darwin do his job. Quit bothering us with repeating yourself while we have work to do, or sleep to get.

Then there are the tornado warnings themselves. We live near the edge of one county, where the storms hit first. About five minutes after a storm has passed, complete with high winds and serious rain, the local siren and the weather radio will go off. "A serious storm with the potential to create tornadoes has been sighted on doppler radar in (my) county." No sh-t Sherlock. I coulda told you that fifteen minutes ago. Because we don't live in the county seat, we don't get proper notification AND we have to listen while the little city twenty miles away gets a warning.

About the only decent coverage is the local tv stations, and even they get nutso some times. Further, now that digital tv has arrived, signals in storms drop out. Our satellite reception drops out just when the weather is getting interesting. We have "advanced" our communications into idiocy. The best I can do is put the computer on dial-up and hit weatherundergound.

I have a spot partly excavated near the house, where I plan to install a shelter with a covered hallway from the house. I'll make it when the money becomes available. Until then, I'll grumble like the thunder.
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Old 09-20-2009, 09:34 AM
 
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if i to build one, i would build a room in the basement use as root-cellar/storm shelter with small peephole to the outside.
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
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About 3 years after the F5 came through, we had a commercial storm shelter installed. At the moment, due to the recent flood, it's filled to the brim with water (once we get all the fences fixed that washed out so the cattle can be back in the pastures, we'll get it drained).

We've only used it once, in 60 mph straight-line winds. It's a short walk (unless you're in 60 mph winds) from the house. Until it started flooding (this is the second time and it's well above the hundred-year-flood-plain line - I suspect the construction on I35 upstream has caused enough impermeable cover to significantly impact that) it was great to use the same way my grandmother did hers, as a root cellar for storage.

Having seen what the F5 did, I wouldn't want one of those above-ground "safe rooms" (when stone houses are torn down to the slab and even the plumbing is pulled out, above-ground is NOT the place to be no matter what the literature says), and I wouldn't want the storm shelter to be under my house, because of the possibility of the house simply falling down on top of it and I wouldn't be able to get out.

I've tested to make sure that my cell phone works in the storm shelter, by the way, and it would definitely go in there with me. We keep water down there in gallon jugs just in case, too.
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Old 09-20-2009, 09:17 PM
 
Location: Not on the same page as most
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
The big issue is that it is in the middle of a field and not anywhere near the house. I can't believe how many people make this mistake when siting a shelter.

Good Point...what good is a shelter if you can't reach it!

Another non-favorite of mine is "Flooding in low lying areas may be possible. Do not drive into standing water." Fer Pete sake, LET 'EM drive into standing water and let Darwin do his job.

Hahahahah!
Quote:
Originally Posted by wabanaki View Post
if i to build one, i would build a room in the basement use as root-cellar/storm shelter with small peephole to the outside.
This way you can see if the coast is clear!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady View Post
About 3 years after the F5 came through, we had a commercial storm shelter installed. At the moment, due to the recent flood, it's filled to the brim with water (once we get all the fences fixed that washed out so the cattle can be back in the pastures, we'll get it drained).
Hope you get it drained soon, just in case you need it.

Having seen what the F5 did, I wouldn't want one of those above-ground "safe rooms" (when stone houses are torn down to the slab and even the plumbing is pulled out, above-ground is NOT the place to be no matter what the literature says), and I wouldn't want the storm shelter to be under my house, because of the possibility of the house simply falling down on top of it and I wouldn't be able to get out.

The whole house falling down and trapping me idea is terrifying. Don't they make them with some sort of strong roof to keep that from happening? Where were you when the F5 hit?

I've tested to make sure that my cell phone works in the storm shelter, by the way, and it would definitely go in there with me. We keep water down there in gallon jugs just in case, too.

Good idea! Maybe a flashlight, and a transistor radio too.



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Old 09-20-2009, 09:29 PM
 
Location: In a happy place
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This is the closest thing we have to a storm shelter at our house. If necessary, we can crawl under the two desk areas right next to the southwest foundation wall. So far it has been all we have needed. The warning siren is about a half a block away. And our cell phones don't even work in the living room, so I know they wouldn't work here.
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:38 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
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Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady
About 3 years after the F5 came through, we had a commercial storm shelter installed. At the moment, due to the recent flood, it's filled to the brim with water (once we get all the fences fixed that washed out so the cattle can be back in the pastures, we'll get it drained).
Hope you get it drained soon, just in case you need it.

It takes a while to drain. Then we have to leave it open to air out, wash it down with a bleach solution, then drain it again. LOTS of fun.

Having seen what the F5 did, I wouldn't want one of those above-ground "safe rooms" (when stone houses are torn down to the slab and even the plumbing is pulled out, above-ground is NOT the place to be no matter what the literature says), and I wouldn't want the storm shelter to be under my house, because of the possibility of the house simply falling down on top of it and I wouldn't be able to get out.

The whole house falling down and trapping me idea is terrifying. Don't they make them with some sort of strong roof to keep that from happening? Where were you when the F5 hit?

Ours is made out of concrete, and the entry is a metal door that pulls open then latches. If something fell down on the entry, we couldn't get out. The 60 mph straight line winds actually lifted up a VERY heavy cast iron swing and put it on the door and we had to move it off before we could get in. (The swing now lives elsewhere.) So, while the roof is heavy, if it were in/too close to the house, there would still be the possibility of something on the door so heavy we couldn't get it off from the inside and not be able to get the door open.

We were at home when the F5 hit. Well, not exactly - we left when we heard that a smaller tornado was heading through Salado directly for our house, and the F5 formed on the other side of the highway after we were well on our way to Austin. The one heading for our house turned east, fortunately.


I've tested to make sure that my cell phone works in the storm shelter, by the way, and it would definitely go in there with me. We keep water down there in gallon jugs just in case, too.

Good idea! Maybe a flashlight, and a transistor radio too.

The flashlight, definitely - we have quite a few around here, placed where we can grab them going out any given door. Also have one of those wind-up radios so we don't have to worry about batteries/electricity in an emergency.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:25 AM
 
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I think being in a basement of a house is sufficent.

As far as the entire house collapsing down--------- slim chance ( maybe in an earthquake)

Remember, a tornado is high speed rotating winds that destroys and sends parts flying for quite some distasnce.

The bad part is in most of the tornado prone areas, basements aren't/can't be built under houses.

As far as posters worrying about being in a safe shelter, surviving, and being trapped---------I am sure you will be rescued shortly after.

We are not talking about a massive earth quake in some 3rd world country where survivors aren't found for weeks
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:41 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
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Marmac, with all due respect, once an F5 comes through your community, your perceptions of what a tornado "can" and "will" do change.

I used to take tornadoes fairly light-heartedly, because one went across my grandparents' land every few years, went the same path every time (and we're talking 80 years that I know of), did minimal damage, big whoop. Then I got educated up close and personal.

Basements aren't at all common around here, for a variety of reasons. Storm shelters take their place (and a lot less room).

Not all houses that are damaged by a tornado are in the same relation to it and its center, and, yes, houses can collapse more or less on-site as a result of them. Vehicles, also, can be moved and put on top of other vehicles or dropped on buildings and cause them to collapse.

As for "being rescued shortly thereafter", if you live in town, yes. This is a rural community, and our closest neighbor (across the street) is half a mile away. "Shortly" can be relative - it could be hours, it could be days. I'd much rather be pretty much assured that I could get out of the storm shelter on my own. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:52 AM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,678,525 times
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I would like to see statistics as to how many people were killed in a basement during a tornado.

My guess would be very,very,few.

(even in a F-5)
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