Women concerned after stuck in tornado shelter

Posted on: 11:13 pm, April 30, 2012, by and , updated on: 11:14pm, April 30, 2012


MIDWEST CITY, Okla. — Mari Anne Liddle, 80, of Midwest City has done a lot of things in her time.

Yet, when she said she got stuck in her storm shelter last May, she said she was terrified.

“Time just feels like it’s going on forever when you think you’re trapped in something,” Liddle said.

Liddle is the third woman Newschannel 4 has interviewed in the past two weeks that said she was stuck in a FlatSafe Tornado Shelter.

Liddle said in her case, her grandaughter tried to pull the latch to open the shelter door.

“There was a chain that you pull to exit, it broke off in her hand,” she said.

Liddle said her grandaughter also tried the emergency lever.

“She pumped and pumped and pumped on that, to no avail.”

Liddle said they ended up calling 911.

“They had to knock down the fence and the side door here. They had to use some kind of a tool to open it,” she said.

Liddle said after many calls, the storm shelter company FlatSafe came out and fixed her latch.

FlatSafe owner Jerry Wirtz tells us they’ve changed the chains on the latches to pull bars so this won’t happen again.

They said they are also investigating what happened to the other women who say they were trapped in their shelters.

“The latches, we’ll go back out and revisit everything we’ve visited from day one. We’ll do testing and looking at it,” Wirtz said.

We wanted to know who’s in charge of regulating these companies.

Billy Pope from the Oklahoma Code Commission said that shelter codes were put into place last July, but it’s up to each jurisdiction to enforce them.

He said in many areas that is still in the development stage.

“It’s kind of like we’ve got the horse out there and the carts back there but we’ve got to get the people in it first. It’s just not there yet,” he said.

Liddle hopes the enforcement catches up soon so companies have someone to answer to.

“I think the emphasis was on putting in shelters because everyone wants shelters at that time, than taking care of the people who needed to have something done,” Liddle said.

Liddle does tell us that FlatSafe paid for all damages and gave her a $6,000 settlement.

FlatSafe issued this statement when asked about this most recent story, “We believe News Channel 4 is deliberately discrediting our company and our product.”

As for regulations to keep Oklahoma safe, we did some checking and found Oklahoma City already has tornado shelter permits and inspections in place.

\Edmond plans to start doing the same in June.