Underground storm shelters gaining local popularity - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Living in Tornado Alley means underground shelters for local residents

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Jackie French of Fort Branch climbs out of her underground storm shelter. Jackie French of Fort Branch climbs out of her underground storm shelter.
GIBSON CO., IN (WFIE) -

Local experts say if your severe weather plan involves moving the basement, you might want to think again.

"A lot of people think since they have a basement they're alright, but it (a tornado) can either pull you out of a basement or it can drop stuff on top of ya," Dan McKinney said.

McKinney owns Integrity Storms Shelters. His company installed 120 underground units last year.

Following local and national weather emergencies, Dan stays busy.  

"We've had calls one right after the other, it's been very busy, we're getting calls from Texas, Oklahoma, different places like that," McKinney said.
 
The underground shelters can fit anywhere from four to twenty people.

A ten person underground shelter can hold up to 14 people.

The shelters are made of fiberglass, which meets FEMA safety regulations. 

Dan says fiberglass shelters are better than concrete, because concrete can crack and leak under extreme shock. 

Dan and his crew will travel in a 90-mile radius to install the shelters.

Just last year he installed one for Jackie French in Fort Branch.

"We had a storm last March and I was in a closet in there with my dog and I didn't feel safe at all," Jackie said. 

That hail storm caused damage throughout Gibson County. 

Jackie said she and her family have used the shelter four or five times in the past year.  

But having a storm shelter installed is only the first step. Jackie keeps essential items inside.
 
"Pillows, blankets, water, flashlights, things like that. I have little lights that I have on there," Jackie said.

Local Emergency Management agencies are given the exact coordinates of each shelter.

If a tree or other debris were to fall on top of the shelter, officials will be able to check each location to make sure occupants are able to escape. 

The shelters range in price from $4,000 to $10,000.

To learn more about Integrity Storm Shelters, click here.

For more on information on overall tornado safety, click here. 

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