Storm shelters an option for tornado safety

A Nabb couple credits an in-ground shelter with saving their lives in the March 2 tornado.
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One of the most important things during a severe storm warning is to know where to go to keep your family safe.

There's under a workbench or a staircase, but shelter dealers have deeper ideas.

When the storm warning sounds where does your family shelter?

"She was down here. Had it not been for that, she wouldn't be here," said Chuck Martin, as he pointed out the underground shelter that saved his wife's life during the March 2 tornado that hit Nabb.

Eyewitness News went back to Nabb to see if others are considering shelters now.

"A lot of people have been calling me in the last two weeks since we had the outbreaks," said Charles McKnight of First Walk-In Storm Shelter Company in Salem.

They want to price shelters like the kind that go in the ground and those above ground. Nabb resident Kelly Hedges is still undecided about purchasing a shelter.

"Possibly, I don't know. We're trying to get things rebuilt, then make a decision on what to do next," she said.

They come in pre-cast fiberglass models that go below ground, porch stairways that become entrances to below-porch shelters and even steel boxes that double as workbenches.

Near Salem, McKnight showed Eyewitness News the 12-foot by 7-foot model he builds, all above ground. The concrete shelter weight 66,000 pounds.

"Every eight inches, that's got rebar," he said.

All of it is poured into a thick concrete slab. Even the roof is poured concrete. He says one of his models came through a 2004 tornado unscathed.

But safety is expensive.

It will cost you $3,700 for the steel workbench models, up to $10,000 for one of McKnight's first walk-in models.

But living in a mobile home, Kathrin Corya says it was worth it to her.

"In 1974, I had a nephew who was killed in a tornado. Since then, I've been scared," she said. "It's just the best investment I ever made. Just the peace of mind. You know you've got someplace to go."

FEMA safe rooms