'Safe Rooms' Are Lifesavers

For contractor Allen Green, Oklahoma's tragedy has been his bonanza. Since last month's twisters, he hasn't stopped, CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

His "safe room" business has increased 50 percent or more. Safe rooms are above-ground, concrete-encased, steel-reinforced bunkers that average $3,500 a piece.

In tornado alley, Auntie Em's cellar in the Wizard Of Oz has gone the way of black and white film - replaced by safe rooms that double as closets or offices when twisters don't threaten and are easy to access when they do.

You'll find all the evidence you'll ever need about the life and death importance of a safe room in a Del City, Oklahoma, neighborhood where two people died and dozens of homes were demolished by one of those twisters last month. And where one woman's good luck was literally the residue of her design.

"I think I was lucky. I think I was very lucky," says Beth Bartlett.

Bartlett built her safe room six months ago. It is the only structure left standing on her block - the best money she ever spent. "It went through an F-5 tornado and doesn't have a crack," she says.

She can thank researchers at Texas Tech like Larry Tanner, "We've known all along it would save lives. But this was the truth in the pudding," Tanner says.

In Oklahoma, the government is offering survivors a $2,000 rebates to rebuild with a safe room. But one look at Beth Bartlett's place may be all the incentive they need.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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