Update: More storm shelters float out of the ground

In Your Corner
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Update 7/11/16: Our In Your Corner team has new information involving a family whose storm shelter popped right out of the ground.

It was floating in Mike Johnson’s backyard for a year.

Monday the family received a brand new shelter for free from Jason Birdsong and Survivor Shelters.

It was actually Jason’s mom who saw our story.

She called Jason and he and his crew from Survivor Shelters drove all of the way from Tulsa to help the Johnson family.

“You know I’ve got family at home. I got a little girl, wife and daughter,” he said. “I want them to be safe when I’m out working too.”

Jason says the shelter he put in the ground isn’t going anywhere, unlike the old shelter installed by John Keely of Common Ground Storm Shelters.

Keely told us he doesn’t have the money right now to refund any of his customers.

The Johnson family has their yard back and dad, Mike, can rest easy knowing his family is safe. 

Mike said, “Really, from the bottom of our hearts we appreciate it.”

Storm shelter installers are not regulated in our state.

Survivor Shelters is a member of the American Tornado Shelter Association, which is an independent association that verifies whether or not a shelter installer is doing things the right way. 


Update 6/9/16 – More families say they have nowhere to go during a tornado.

The complaints against John Keely of Common Ground Storm Shelters are piling up.

Remember, Mike Johnson’s shelter was floating out of the ground.

“I paid money for this to protect my family,” he said.

Now, there are more dissatisfied customers telling the In Your Corner team Keely left them with a big mess in their backyard.

Shane Wilson sued Keely in court and won.

Last month, Keely told the In Your Corner team his funds were tapped out but he was working on getting customers refunds.

There appears to be major flaws in Keely’s design and installation of his shelters.

The Wilson family says they were supposed to get stairs.

“He just threw that ladder in there, welded it on and called it good,” Shane said.

It is alleged Keely’s guys never used rebar and there’s no concrete underneath the shelter.

If you walk on the floor, it feels more like a trampoline.

Shane says he’s had to pump water out his shelter probably 100 times.

Craig and Julie Lewis’ shelter also popped right up out of the ground.  

“When it first started to happen, I thought the ground was sinking,” she said.

The family received help paying for their shelter through the City of Moore’s rebate program, so Keely got paid with FEMA money. 

Taxpayers foot the bill for this mess.

“The plans he submitted to us and the city is not what he installed,” Julie said. “It was supposed to have concrete around it. It was supposed to have support beams.”

Shane was already forced to replace the faulty door on his shelter.

He wants the thing gone, but hiring another company to do the heavy lifting won’t be cheap. 

The Lewis say they’re still holding out hope Keely will do the right thing.

“I don’t want him to try to repair it anymore,” Craig said. “I would have been happy with that at first, but now I just want him to come get it and cut me a check.”

All of these families filed a complaint with the Oklahoma Attorney General. 

They can sue Keely but, even if they win, a refund is no guarantee.

We’ll keep you posted.

Remember to do your homework and educate yourself when entering into any business deal.

NOBLE, Okla. – Mike Johnson’s storm shelter has been belly up for a year now.    

His yard is pretty much useless, not to mention dangerous for his kids.

He says the worst part though is knowing his family doesn’t have anywhere to go during a tornado.

“I paid money for this to protect my family,” he said.

The guy who installed the shelter is John Keely of Common Ground Storm Shelters.

Mike says he refuses to come and get it.

“I’ve spent a lot of time calling the guy,” he said. “I understand the situation he’s in. He had multiple shelters that I’m aware of that have floated up out of the ground.”

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office tells the In Your Corner team their office has received five complaints against Keely’s company.

Plus, we know the Better Business Bureau lowered his rating to an F for failing to respond to complaints.

We found Keely’s address online and met up with him at his home.

Keely says he’s only installing safe rooms now.

He provided our team with a report that says his safe room design was tested and approved by The National Wind Institute at Texas Tech, which we reminded him has nothing to do with the below ground shelter floating in Mike’s backyard right now. 

Keely told us he plans to refund Mike and others their cash.

The In Your Corner bottom line is state agencies don’t regulate shelter installers.    

Some municipalities, including Oklahoma City, require a permit, but it does little good to protect customers.

Just ask Ken Milligan.

“We had to pull a city permit and let ‘em know it was installed so they could come out and check it,” he said. “They drove by the house is all they done.”

Ken says his shelter is built good, but several issues came to light shortly after the install.

The biggest thing is water.

There appears to be hollow spots beneath the shelter.

Ken paid extra for a warranty, but the company that installed it, Precision Shelters, went out of business.

We know the company’s managing partner, Dan Trantham, is filing bankruptcy and now lives in Fort Worth.

Trantham tells the In Your Corner team there simply wasn’t enough money to keep the doors open and, because he’s in bankruptcy proceedings, there is nothing he can do to help Ken right now.

  • It’s important to educate yourself.
  • Get references.
  • Doing searches online.
  • Make sure your storm shelter design meets FEMA guidelines.

John Keely says he doesn’t have any extra cash right now to refund customers their money. 

We’ll check back.

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