Storm Shelter Business Booming In Wake Of Tornadoes

By Jason Allen, CBS 11 News

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After a month with 16 tornadoes in North Texas, storm shelter companies are scrambling to fill a sudden rush of orders coming in from across the country.

Some producers said they’re receiving as many as 100 calls a day from customers ready to pay any price.

In Rockwall Friday, Russell Mims had one of his family safe storm shelters on a trailer and ready for a weekend delivery.

The buyer didn’t want to wait for him to build a custom size. “They just wanted whatever I had available. They wanted it and they wanted it now.”

Mims said he gets 10 calls a day from people ready to pay cash for his shelters which start a $4,500, if he can deliver and install the steel rooms instantly.

“We’ve ramped up production, hired more welders,” he said. “We’ve called the steel suppliers and had them increase the steel supply.”

Bret West of U.S. Storm Shelters said he had received more than 15 messages Friday that he hadn’t had time to return yet.

He was too busy installing two shelters in Alvord in Wise County. He said he’s booked solid with local orders until late May.

With the sudden rush on safe rooms though, shelter builders are urging buyers to make sure they get something that will survive the biggest storms.

FEMA standards developed in 1998 call for shelters to survive 250 mile per hour wind gusts, and withstand a 2 x4 piece of wood fired at a wall at 100 miles per hour.

The National Storm Shelter Safety Association started putting seals 10 years ago on shelters that meet the most stringent standards.

“Ask your shelter producer if they’ve been tested and if they have then they should have the paperwork that says they completed the report,” said NSSSA president Tom Bennett. “Look at the report and see if they passed or failed.”

Tarrant County received a FEMA grant last year to reimburse residents or developers half the cost of a new storm shelter, up to $3,000. As of Friday though, only five people had received money.

>>Click here to find out about the grant<<

The average amount reimbursed has been about $2,200. Four more shelters are under construction and the county got permission to extend the application deadline for the money, until March 16, 2012.


One Comment

  1. Wanda Sims says:

    Can Anderson Co. Tx also get in on the rebate for the storm shelters? Thank you.

  2. Wayne says:

    I checked the website mentioned in the article, but it was for Tarrant County, and I live in Collin County. Do you know if other counties in the North Texas area participate in this?

    1. Jason says:

      Wanda and Wayne–

      Check this link

      It’s from the NSSA and includes other programs in the state that *may fit your needs. Some of them say they have closed, however, Tarrant County just got an extension because so few people had applied. It’s possible some of the other agencies may still have money available as well.

  3. Reeper says:

    Unless these are built underground your just wasting your money unless you get hit by a small tornado.
    Wind speeds and force where all done by replicating things found left in a lab last I knew, care to be the lab rat since mother nature isn’t and the wind/force could be much greater. It would take seeing a lot of these above ground structures surviving a direct hit by an EF-5 before I’d build anything above ground, and then I’d still be at the mercy of if it was put in or built right.
    Below ground your only concern is a good door and being able to exit or call for help getting out.
    During mass production or installation is a bad time to buy anything, in their slack time people make less mistakes. So those getting it later may be better off. They may be good investments, but not without a lot of research or buying out of panic.

  4. R.j. Budler says:

    I was under the impression that they’re ALL built underground. Is that not right?

  5. Reeper says:

    Some are reinforced rooms added above ground to houses, reason it has to withstand wind gusts/wood peircings.
    None of that applies underground though even those have specs and considerations when being put in-water leakage, exit blockage, etc.
    I thought the same until years ago hearing they are doing it above ground now. Easier to add above ground than dig in a yard, but with direct big hits the only place I would feel safe if underground hoping the door didn’t get blown off.

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