Community Shelters: Which Shelters are Best?

Government officials in Tornado Alley and Dixie Alley have more than just road construction and school lunch programs to factor into their budgets: they have to consider the mortal safety of residents in their community. Most of these states have taken up initiatives to build storm shelters, knowing that they’re pretty much necessary to survival in many parts. Some use FEMA grant money to build their shelters, though the costs can still be very high, as they must figure in all aspects (land, equipment, labor, etc.) to have the work completed satisfactorily.

One major decision these hard-working civil servants must make is how they will distribute funds. Among other things, they have to consider the number of citizens and their mobility, the amount of available land on which to build, and the distance between residents.

It seems there are three distinct choices administrators make:

  • a large community shelter or two in central locations,
  • a few medium sized shelters scattered throughout the area,
  • or individual residential shelters parceled out to a set number of homeowners.

Let’s look at a few benefits and drawbacks to each of these choices.

Benefits of a Larger Community Shelter for Tornadoes

Large community shelters, like the ones you see on the Survive-a-Storm Shelters website, can hold about 100 people.

They are usually above ground, bolted into concrete, though some can be buried in the ground. These shelters must be equipped with restrooms per FEMA 361 standards, and it is recommended that these shelters are also compliant with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) specifications so that the shelter is accessible to people with disabilities. They also come with other amenities like seating and a generator for lighting and fans.

With so much room and so many options, it would seem this would be the likely choice for any community. However, there are a few downsides.

Drawbacks of a Large Community Shelter

First, there is the danger of going out into a dangerous storm. It is better to be inside than to drive a car (though if someone lives in a mobile home, they probably want to seek sturdier shelter).

Second, if a small town can only afford one shelter, some may be too far away for it to help them. The storm might be over (or over their heads!) before they get there.

Last, there is the problem of keeping the shelter accessible to residents while preventing squatters and vandals from destroying the property.

Strategically Placed Mid-Sized Community Shelters

Some communities go for mid-sized community shelters that hold 40-50 people.

They can also be equipped with restrooms and fitted for people with disabilities. These shelters are less expensive than the larger community shelters, so a city may be able to purchase more than just one or two, and place them in strategic spots around town. This means less travel time and traffic jams and less danger of being caught up in a tornado while seeking shelter.

However, the availability of land may present a challenge, and there is still the issue of preventing trespassing while maintaining accessibility

Benefits of Using Individual Residential Tornado Shelters in a Community

Some administrations have allowed private citizens to apply for individual or family tornado shelters to be installed on their private property. In these cases, there are a set number of shelters available depending on the budget, and they’re awarded based on different criteria.

Many communities prefer this option because it means families do not have to go out into a tornado in order to survive a tornado. They can simply go into their shelter in the garage or backyard. In some  instances, neighbors get together and agree to have the shelter installed in one yard, and they all have permission to use it when a storm comes along.

Critics argue that many people will be left with no shelter whatsoever. Unfortunately, this is true because funds are never unlimited.

Each state, county, city, and town must decide what is best for them. Experience is a great teacher, and we can learn a lot from the tragedies of the past and from successes as well.

Survive-a-Storm Shelters has each of the above listed shelters available for your specific needs. We also have financing options too. Give us a call at 888-360-1492 and speak to one of our storm shelter experts today!

The leading manufacturer and distributor of prefabricated steel above ground and below ground tornado shelters, and community safe rooms.
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