What is scarier, a typhoon hurricane or a tornado? They are essentially the same thing, described in the general term “tropical cyclone”. Really it is a matter of opinion. But whatever we call it we all realise that being caught in a tornado or a hurricane would be a truly terrifying experience for anybody unlucky enough to get caught up in one.
Whatever humans build, Mother Nature has the power to destroy. The damage can be devastating when she gets going! Winds from tornadoes and hurricanes are the most destructive. Across America millions of people are susceptible to violent storms and the so-called Tornado Alley in the central plains is most known for destruction. But the south is still the worst. It is a matter of fact that more and more people are installing shelters.
From an article by Wall Street which highlighted storm damage statistics from 2010 to 2014, they rated each state by storm damage and the amount of damaged insurable property. There are 9 states that topped the list for storm damage. They are Wyoming, reported to have storm damages of $104 million, Montana with damages of $142 million, Nevada, with its searing heat which creates huge firestorms, lightening being the foremost culprit, had $417 million in damages. Arkansas is a big sufferer – its tornadoes, the remnants of tropical storms, led to damage amounting to $1.2 billion. Mississippi, a low- lying state which suffers from high winds, lost $3 billion. Oklahoma is central. It was reported to have suffered $3.5 billion in storm damages. Tennessee had 8 FEMA states of emergency resulting in $4.7 billion damage, due to massive windstorms resulting in flooding. Missouri had $5.3 billion in property damage, mostly resulting from one single storm. However, the state with the most storm damage is Alabama. Tornadoes are Alabama’s worst storm threat. Their damage claim was $12.2 billion. The most severe storm in 2005 Hurricane Katrina, destroyed $105.8 billion of property. The human loss was incalculable.
It stands to reason that people who live in areas of destructive storms, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, should have storm shelters where they can ride out a storm in safety. The Federal Emergency Management Association gives out good information on building standards for storm shelters and may be able to offer local government grants to help pay for them. Here are some initial suggestions when you are planning your safe shelter. You should decide what type of storm and/or wind rating you are building a shelter for. Tornado is an “EF” rating of 1-5 and Hurricane is similar. This will be a guide to help you decide on the strength of your shelter. If yours is to be an in-ground model then you should provide 10 square feet for each person, plus room for supplies for a hurricane. Tornado shelters only require 3-5 square feet of space per occupant. Don’t forget to leave enough room in your whichever shelter you choose for shelves for storing supplies and benches for sitting and sleeping.
A common fear is getting trapped in your shelter. Homeowners fear that heavy debris on top of their shelter might prevent them getting out. However, this fear should be balanced against the very real risk of being injured or killed by flying debris without a storm shelter. Yes, heavy debris can land on your underground shelter while you are inside, but it is possible to avoid being trapped by installing hydraulic jacks which are relatively inexpensive and which are capable of lifting several tons of debris. Believe it or not, your car can also protect your in-ground shelter from debris. In-ground garage shelters are designed for you to park your car on top of the shelter, providing an adequate shield for you in an emergency and with enough room for you to enter and exit. Last, but not least, check out that your state has a storm registry for homeowners. Once your shelter is installed make sure you file it with your city or county. This ensures that first responders can use their handheld computers to assist in the storm shelter search.