MOORE, Okla. – Kevin Hill knows all about the importance of storm shelters.
His daughter, Luciana, was at Plaza Towers Elementary on May 20, 2013, just minutes before a tornado killed seven children in the same building.
He found her clinging to her teacher’s leg.
“I just dropped to my knees in the mud and just held her and I carried her all the way home,” he said.
Kevin’s family has one in their home, and as the owner of DCI2 Architects, he also designs them.
He says for those who want to install a pre-built shelter or safe room, there are generally three options.
1. A below ground shelter in your garage, or back patio.
2. An above ground safe room in your garage.
3. Or an outdoor concrete shelter.
Kevin says each is trustworthy if it has a seal of approval from the National Storm Shelter Association and/or it’s been built according to FEMA’s P-320 specifications.
So what do they cost? Well, it depends on the size.
Virginia Peters of Edmond bought a six-foot, above ground, steel safe room for about $4,000.
But she paid no money up front.
“I don’t care if we don’t ever have to use it,” she said. “It’s here and we know it’s here and it’s a peace of mind to know, instead of huddling in the hall like we used to do, or in the bathroom.”
We found comparable underground steel shelters to cost about the same.
But outdoor concrete shelters were generally less expensive.
After being sheltered from the May 20 twister, Moore resident Elaine Furr was reminded that her safety has no price.
“Oh, I want to say everybody needs one with the conditions, the tornadoes that hit here in Oklahoma,” she said.
You could receive a rebate of up to $2,000 through the Sooner Safe Rebate Program, which has annual lottery drawings each January.
But officials tell us they only have $1 million per year, meaning only 500 safe room applications will receive grant money every year and a lot of Oklahomans have signed up.
So also check with your city for shelter rebate programs.
Officials in Moore said they might be getting federal rebate money by the end of the year.
Virginia has her shelter stocked with a first aid kit, battery-powered fan, water, food and portable TV.
You can find a complete shelter kit checklist on www.Ready.Gov, which recommends having your prescription medications with you, as well as cash, important family documents and a change of clothing.
It’s all about survival.
“You have a good shot, at least (of surviving),” Virginia said. “This gives us a chance. It gives you a peace of mind to know that you have a place to go.”
Don’t forget to register your shelter with your city or county – so they’ll know to come look for you after the storm.