Above Ground Storm Shelters as Effective as Below Ground Shelters

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MOORE, Oklahoma –

The massive storm that hit central Oklahoma last week has shined a light on safe rooms and storm shelters.

More than 3,000 shelters are registered in the city of Moore, and the city says everyone who took shelter inside one of them survived the storm.

The violent path of the tornado can be seen everywhere in the Moore neighborhood. Mindy Chaddock and family made it through the over 200-mile-an-hour winds by huddling in a storm shelter.

“People describe it as a train feeling–it wasn’t anything like that. I mean, the whole thing was shaking,” Chaddock said.

The one that saved her family is a below ground shelter; the most common kind of shelter in the neighborhood.

“This storm–I don’t see how you can survive in a bathtub or a closet, because, even in a shelter, we were scared for our life. That’s how strong it was,” Chaddock said.

“We’re looking, right now, for anything that was used to survive the tornado,” said Tom Bennett.

Bennett is a News On 6 weather producer, as well as president of Jim Giles Safe Rooms and past president of the National Storm Shelter Association or NSSA.

Members of that organization have been surveying in Moore, looking at the safe rooms and storm shelters to see how they performed during the tornado.

Complete Coverage: May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

Bennett said they haven’t seen a case, yet, of either an above ground or below ground shelter failing in the storm.

Bennett said while there is some minor damage to some of the above ground shelters, like the turbines flying off or the handles being bent, there’s nothing that would lead to tragedy.

“We’re not seeing anything here that caused injury or death. If you were in a safe room, whether it was above ground or below ground, you survived the tornado,” Bennett said.

Chaddock said she’s thankful to the Chickasaw tribe for installing the shelter for her grandmother and hopes everyone knows how important shelters are, no matter the cost.

“It’s 100 percent worth it. I mean, if you value your life and you value your children’s life, it’s 100 percent worth it,” she said.

Wind engineers from Texas Tech University are also in Moore. They’re reporting to FEMA about what the wind did to all of the structures–the buildings, the schools, even the storm shelters.

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