Tornado shelter inquiries way up after Memorial Day outbreak

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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WDTN) – After the Memorial Day tornadoes, people are trying to find ways to better protect their families.

One Middletown company is reporting a surge in people looking to buy tornado shelters.

When you look down into the plastic enclosure, it doesn’t look like too many people can fit down there. But in reality, 8 people and potentially more can fit for a short amount of time.

Rosalyn Noaks lives in Huber Heights and during the late hours of Memorial Day she found herself rushing to the shelter.

“Everybody was laughing at me. All my friends..they thought, ‘What do you need a tornado shelter for?'” said Noaks.

Unfortunately, hail started hitting her house at a rapid rate and Noaks couldn’t make it to the yard. Thankfully, the tornado outbreak stopped just short of her property.

“I just waited too long. You know you don’t really believe there’s going to be a tornado in this area. Even though I had bought the shelter,” said Noaks.

If there ever is a next time, you’ll find Noaks in her shelter.

There are plenty of battery operated lights, ventilation and custom options for the shelters.

A local fire department will also be notified about the shelter so they can check the property should debris fall on the enclosure door.

You’ll find these shelters in production at Granger Plastics Company.

Prior to the outbreak, Shawn Cravens, the general manager says they took 10 calls a week on this product. That figure has skyrocketed over the last week.

“Recently we have generated between 3,000-4,000 leads,” said Cravens.

That doesn’t mean 4,000 people have purchased the shelters. In fact, buying one is kind of like buying a car.

It could cost you roughly $7,000. But the Ohio EMA does offer a grant that is distributed like the lottery.

“Once you get approved. You have about a calendar year to get the shelter purchased and installed. Then you fill out a small amount of paperwork. Then you actually get a rebate up to 75 percent of the purchase price,” said Cravens.

The shelters have been tested in state-of-the-art labs at Texas Tech University and they are approved by FEMA.

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