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Tornado Fears Have Storm Shelter & Safe Room Businesses Swamped

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The phones at storm shelter companies immediately start ringing after any deadly tornado outbreak and that's exactly what's happening here in North Texas.

When it comes to severe, potentially deadly weather storm shelter companies say many homeowners no longer think 'it won't happen here' and are instead asking, 'what would I do if it did?'

Many residents are answering that question by investing in storm shelters.

Kate Watson said her family had considered installing a storm shelter. "We had talked about it on and off; but, not with any seriousness."

Then in May of last year, an EF5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma and dozens were killed. Watson recalled, "Like everybody, we were horrified." Then she remembered thinking, "Where would we go in a similar circumstance?"

Trying to answer that question quickly moved the Watson family from talking about a tornado shelter to having one installed in the floor of the garage.

Storm Shelter 1
(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Explaining how the shelter operates Kate said, "Ours just rolls back, and if a car is in front of the garage, it's in front of the car. So we don't need to move the car out. There are little steps that go down into it."

Other North Texans, also shaken by the Moore tornado, had shelter companies fielding calls for weeks.

Tim Arp, with Armour Guard, said, "Oh, it was extremely busy... 200, 150-200 calls a day."

Arp said phones at the company began ringing last week at the mere mention of a severe weather risk here. He says that increased awareness is leading more homeowners to invest in shelters.

"Ten or 12 years ago the only shelters you sold were out in the country and they were concrete shelters. Now folks know that tornadoes hit cities, so probably 95-percent of what we sell is in the city."

Options now include freestanding steel or concrete shelters, and those that are installed underground. Arp says prices typically range from roughly $5,000 for a small unit for two people to $13,000 for one that can seat up to 12.

Speaking of her recently installed shelter Kate Watson said, "It just gave us great peace of mind. At a moment's notice, we can go someplace really safe."

The Watson family shelter fits about eight people, but it isn't a condo… you can't stand up in it. But the shelters are ventilated and there's room to store water and emergency supplies.

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