Storm shelters in demand after Oklahoma tornado - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Storm shelters in demand after Oklahoma tornado

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Two models of the storm shelters available. Two models of the storm shelters available.
Paul Gabehart sitting inside one of the storm shelters. Paul Gabehart sitting inside one of the storm shelters.
Ben Bolden standing outside his storm shelter. Ben Bolden standing outside his storm shelter.
A look at the inside of a storm shelter. A look at the inside of a storm shelter.

CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - One of the safest places to seek shelter during a storm is underground, but a basement doesn't always provide the best protection.

Modern day storm shelters don't have to be cinder block bunkers. Instead, several models on the market are primarily fiberglass shells that can be buried.

"Families will rest better knowing that if their emergency radio goes off and they need to take cover, they can do it immediately a few steps from home," Paul Gabehart said, who owns Kentucky Storm Shelters.

It'll cost a family of four about $4,000 after taxes and installation. There are several sizes available that can protect up to 20 people.

Insurance money will not cover costs. Often, state and federal assistance, including FEMA, wont reimburse expenses unless a tornado recently caused significant damage. Buyers will have to pay for it out of pocket, but some who've made the purchase say it's a critical investment.

"If something were to happen, my daughter and I could walk out of it alive. You can't put a price on a life," Ben Bolden said. He purchased a unit in 2012.

Manufacturers claim storm shelters are safer than basements. "The pressure with the dirt around it makes it incredibly strong. Basements aren't as safe because it could become a debris pile and vacuum," Gabehart said. "The door has also been tested to withstand an EF-5 tornado and more than 150 mile-per-hour wind."

The fiberglass material doesn't hamper cell phone or radio reception.

Bolden says he wouldn't take a chance without his below ground bunker. "The closest basement is a few blocks away, so instead of taking my little girl up the road, I can just take her right out the back door. It's real peace of mind," he said.

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