EL RENO, Okla. – Just days after an Oklahoma couple had a storm shelter installed on their property, they discover several inches of water flooding their safe room and now say they will have to pay to have it removed.
Last week, Amy Bedore said, “If we had a storm tomorrow, my choice would be tornado or drown. I get to choose my way of going.”
Bedore says she was fed up after the shelter she purchased flooded and the company she bought it from was giving her the runaround.
Mark Sanders, with Sandlott Precasting, LLC., the manufacturer of the shelter, says there is nothing wrong the shelter.
Instead, he says the installer used a faulty sealant.
Sanders said, “The sealer the installers, Tribal Custom Storm Shelters and Forest, had put in there apparently may not have been enough.”
Sanders couldn’t meet in person but spoke to us by phone Tuesday.
Now, Amy and her husband say they want to have the shelter removed but will have to pay for the removal themselves.
Sanders says the shelter now belongs to Amy and her husband.
He says he does not have a refund policy and, in this case, believes the shelter has not failed, just the sealant.
He says the problem can be fixed but it is up to the installer, not the manufacturer.
Regardless, Bedore says she just wants it gone.
She said, “I just want a storm shelter not a rain gauge.”
Experts say Bedore is not alone in this issue.
In fact, it’s a problem one state agency says could happen to anyone.
Billy Pope, with the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission, says there is very little regulation when it comes to storm shelters.
Pope said, “That really leaves it open and it kind of makes it a buyer beware.”
While companies are required to meet certain FEMA and National Storm Shelter Association codes, there is not anyone to enforce those regulations.
Pope said, “The legislature did not give us any enforcement ability at all. Once we develop a code and set it as a minimum standard by legislation, we are out of it.”
In this case, the manufacturer says his shelter does meet the required standards and has been signed off on by an engineer.
Sanders said, “These are above and beyond the normalcy.”
The owner of Sandlott Precasting says his company is young.
In fact, he says this was their first shelter sale and the customers are responsible for finding their own installers.
He says he helped the Bedore family find an installer because they have a mutual friend and he wanted to help them with the process.
He says things will definitely be handled differently in the future.
As for the company he says was in charge of the installation, we spoke with them.
They tell us they were not in charge of the installation and were only hired to dig the hole for the shelter.
They are willing to remove the shelter but say it will cost about $500.
Rep. Joe Dorman hopes to present a bill that would protect consumers from problems like this one during the next legislative session.