Safe rooms gain popularity as storm shelters in Texas

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by Brad Woodard / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 12:16 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 22 at 12:20 AM

HOUSTON—It’s difficult to fathom what it must be like the moment you realize the world as you knew it no longer exists—a moment experienced so many times in the wake of the deadly tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. 

Hundreds of miles away near Houston, hidden behind what appears to be pantry shelves, are a concrete and steel reinforced storm shelter, among other things.

“Safe room, shelter, panic room…I’ve gotten a lot of requests here lately for safe rooms to be used for storm shelters and also panic rooms,” said Andy Dean, of Dreams 2 Reality Custom Homes.

Such is the case with a home he recently built, which contains a concrete and steel reinforced safe room/storm shelter/panic room hidden behind what appears to be pantry shelves near the kitchen.  The owner, who lived in a different house when Hurricane Ike came to town, wanted something more structurally sound.

“We looked at a few different options and this wound up being the most economically feasible way to withstand hurricanes and tornadoes,” he said.

It cost $5,500 to build the room while the home was being constructed, $2,000 of which went to a FEMA-approved door, which has been tested to withstand winds exceeding 250 miles per hour. 

The problem is, creating such a room is difficult to do once the house is already built.

One alternative is FEMA-approved underground shelters made out of fiberglass in Tyler, which cost about the same.

“Many people consider it just like an investment or insurance policy, you hope you don’t use it, but if you need it, it’s there for you,” said Beverly Hall, of East Texas Tornado Shelters.

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