NORMAN — Until recently, the staff at GroundSafe Shelters had to explain the details of underground storm shelters to customers.
But that’s not the case anymore.
The deadly tornadoes that struck Oklahoma in the past two weeks forced residents to start thinking about buying storm shelters for their homes, GroundSafe manager Davina Stubblefield said Wednesday. She said that many customers had thought about putting in shelters before the storms, but they put off making a decision — until now.
“It’s hard not to think about it when you’re driving through Moore and Norman every day,” she said.
Meeting demand: Orders for storm shelters had already spiked in the wake of the May 20 tornado that slammed into Moore and southern Oklahoma City. That tornado killed 24 people and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage.
The state was still reeling from that disaster last Friday when more deadly twisters and flash floods struck El Reno and Oklahoma City. Twenty people lost their lives in those storms.
The one-two punch left vendors scrambling to fill orders for their products.
Stubblefield said the May 20 tornado wiped out GroundSafe’s supply of underground storm shelters, and the Norman-based company had to boost production to replenish its stock. She said employees are working an extra three to four hours a day to keep up with sales, which have jumped by 40 percent to 50 percent in the past two weeks.
“We’re coming in earlier, we’re staying later,” Stubblefield said. “We’re all pitching in.”
She said demand has forced GroundSafe to increase its delivery time from two to four weeks, and the company will double its work force to help fill orders.
Another Norman-based company, Thunderground Storm Shelters, also reported a spike in orders for underground storm shelters.
The company is fielding more than 100 inquiries a day from people seeking price quotes and other information, said Garett Howerton, director of operations.