Demand spikes for plastic tornado shelters in wake of storms, state rebate program

Updated: Feb. 3, 2020 at 7:25 PM EST
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Shawn Cravens of Granger Plastics in Middletown is busy this time of year making storm shelters.

“Especially around this time of year we see demand increase drastically," Cravens told FOX19 NOW. "Of course, as tornadoes and storms happen, then that drives demand as well.”

Last May, tornadoes tore through Ohio, damaging 900 homes and businesses across the state. Cravens says he saw an uptick in demand afterwards.

He says he saw another one after the tornadoes that hit Troy last month.

The shelters are made of plastic and are meant to be buried underground. They fit six adults comfortably and meet FEMA standards.

Those standards include this debris testing done at Texas Tech University.

The testing involves launching a 15 pound two-by-four wooden board at the door of the shelter at up to 100 mph to simulate debris being thrown from a tornado.

“It cannot penetrate the door, it cannot knock anything off of the door and into the cabin of the shelter," Cravens explained. “It also can’t knock the door open.”

The shelters cost around $7,000.

To help cover the costs, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency is giving rebates to homeowners up to 75 percent off the cost to purchase or have a shelter constructed.

Since starting the program eight years ago, Ohio EMA has awarded $1.5 million, or 200 safe room rebates.

“It gives them peace of mind that they will have somewhere to go," Cravens said. "Jokingly, we do hear some customers say now that I have it they’ll probably never have a tornado.”

If you are interested in applying for the rebate, you can find more information here.

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