Backyard storm shelter saves Kokomo family
Norbert Eberhardt just had a feeling.
"Kids and my friends are calling me Noah...because I knew it was coming," he said of the EF-2 tornado that destroyed his Kokomo home on Sunday.
Not only did he know, he did something about it. Starting in April, block by concrete block, he build a 10 foot by 12 foot storm shelter in his back yard. He finished the project in September. "I've got roughly a ton of steel panels in rebar in it," he said.
His daughter Karma was skeptical at first.
"I just told him it was useless, it wasn't going to be used," she said. But after Sunday, she's changed her mind. "This is the one time I was wrong, maybe just a little bit!"
That's because her mother, father and aunt rode out the tornado from inside the shelter.
"The stuff that was hitting it....even though it did not hit us, I still felt the impact on my body," said Debbie Eberhardt, Karma's mother.
Once the storm passed, they pried the shelter door open.
"Prior to coming out here we were out in the garage and there's nothing left of the garage," said Norbert Eberhardt. His wife has no doubts.
"The storm shelter is what saved our life. My husband, I made fun of him for building that and I'll eat crow after that," said Debbie Eberhardt.
The little building that made a big difference is now battle tested.
"Well, I'm gonna praise him," said Debbie.
And a family that lost just about everything is grateful.
The shelter cost $6,000 in materials to build. All the materials are available at any hardware store. The Eberhardts suggest building a shelter or having some safe place to go in the event of a storm, because the type of tornadoes that hit here could strike anywhere.