Some locals installing tornado shelters to protect families - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Some locals installing tornado shelters to protect families

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Since tornadoes devastated parts of the Tennessee Valley back in April 2011 and again in March 2012, many people have opted to install storm shelters.    

Some have invested thousands of dollars and tonight say that decision is easing their fears as they keep their eyes and ears on the latest weather conditions.

"The metal is real thick. I wouldn't be scared to get in here and let you shoot a riffle at me in it," Buell Hulsey said.

Buell Hulsey says his family is ready to run the few feet out of their den to their above ground storm shelter in a moment's notice.

"We've been in here two or three times when there's been 60 mph winds. It makes us feel safe," Hulsey said.

He bought a one-ton shelter after the March 2012 tornadoes that struck Harrison. Debris landed in his yard in Hixson.

"I went up there to pick it up it was a half a sheet of plywood with nails sticking out of it and I said i'm going to get me a storm shelter. I said this is close enough," Hulsey said.

The owners of Safe Haven Storm Shelters say more and more people are taking action like Mr. Hulsey.

"This year we're on track to double our sales from the year before," Safe Haven Storm Shelters Co-owner Scott Goulart said.

Goulart, his brother and friend started their business following the deadly April 2011 tornadoes.

"There's never been a demand for storm shelters but we're part of tornado alley now. You just never know,. This weather is unpredictable," Goulart said.

They designed the above ground unit that's patented with a sliding door. It's engineered to withstand 250 mile per hour winds, an EF-5.

"I just wanted to give people that peace of mind knowing there's a safe place to go," he said.

Most people opt to put it in their garage, carport or near a door. Others in our area have installed underground shelters in their yards. It's all in an effort protect their families from being picked up by powerful winds.

Hulsey says he strongly suggests everybody get a shelter of some sort.

"Just don't be late," Hulsey said.

Storm shelters range in price, usually starting in the five to six thousand dollar range.

If you can't afford one, have a place in your house picked out for your family's "safe place," such as a basement, bathroom, under stairs, closets, hallways. They should be places as far inside the building and close to the ground as possible.      

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