The Norman Transcript

Homepage

May 9, 2014

Twisters rouse interest in shelters, safe rooms

OKLAHOMA CITY — Last year’s tornado season wasn’t the worst in Oklahoma history, either in the number of twisters or the number of lives taken.

But the deadly barrage that killed more than 30 people scared Oklahomans in a way that previous storms had not, moving them to add tornado shelters or reinforced safe rooms to their homes.

There’s just one problem: The surge of interest in tornado safety has overwhelmed companies that build the shelters, creating long waiting lists and forcing many people to endure the most dangerous part of this season without any added protection.

“Pretty much anywhere you go right now, the soonest anyone can install is about mid-June,” said Kayli Phillips, who works in sales and accounting at Norman-based Thunderground Storm Shelters. “We’re booked solid until then.”

Thunderground, which opened about two years ago, is part of a booming new industry that has taken shape as more Americans seek to shield their families from severe weather. The demand intensified last year following the series of deadly twisters in central Oklahoma, where a single tornado on May 20, 2013, killed 24 people and destroyed 1,100 homes in Moore.

Since then, Moore residents have added about 1,100 basements or shelters, according to city spokeswoman Deidre Ebrey. In all, the city has an estimated 6,000 shelters or basements.

In nearby Oklahoma City, more than 8,000 storm shelter permits have been issued since May 2013, according to Kristy Yager, a spokeswoman for Oklahoma City. In 2009, just 322 permits were issued.

The 2013 tornadoes “pretty much kept us booked up the entire year,” Phillips said.

Abby Brown, a sales manager for Edmond, Oklahoma-based GFS Storm Shelters, said there’s always a waiting list for installations, but it generally peaks starting in March, when people begin thinking about the upcoming storm season. The company, which has been in business for four years, installs about 175 shelters a month.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
New and Developing
Headlines

Sports
Opinion

Features

Must Read

Editorials

Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Business
Photos


Facebook