The Edmond Sun

May 21, 2013

Storm shelter inquiries up; customers take a number

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — After the horrific tornado set down in Moore Monday afternoon, storm shelter inquiries hit new highs.

Tuesday Ashley Cunningham, office manager for Red Dirt Septic on Waterloo Road in Edmond, and Mark Webb, owner of the Armor Vault Tornado Shelter in Oklahoma City, said their phones have been ringing consistently starting Monday afternoon.

Cunningham said they had close to 150 calls by Tuesday afternoon.

“With the orders we have taken today we are pushed to four to five weeks out for completion,” Cunningham said.

Webb said he had answered inquires since Monday as to size, price and availability. From five calls a day to more than 15 calls an hour, Webb is a one-man office and said he hasn’t done much more than answer the phone Tuesday.

“My phone has been ringing off the wall,” Webb said. “We probably average five calls a day, but I have had more than 100 today.”

Webb said that he has a waiting list right now for orders.  

“We are about 12 weeks back with our orders,” Webb said. “We are pretty covered up right now.”

Although both companies manufacturer and sell above-ground safe rooms, Red Dirt also sells concrete in-ground concrete storm shelters that carry a 10-year warranty.

“Our storm shelters are reinforced with fiber as well as steel re-bar and poured to exceed 5,000 pounds per square inch,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham added the company can install two to three in-ground shelters a day and each slope-top or flat-top in-ground shelter takes three to four hours to complete.

“Our above-ground safe rooms have two vents and a door that opens outward and our in-ground storm shelters have a turbine and a vent cap,” Cunningham said.

Webb has designed and engineered a safe room to withstand F-5 tornadic winds and flying debris. Fully tested and certified by Texas Tech Wind, Science and Engineering, the testing consisted of high velocity missiles shot into the door and sides of the shelter with the force equal to flying debris that a F-5 tornado can and does produce.

Webb’s father designed and manufactured a steel door and lift assembly for in-ground shelters in 1963, and Webb said after the tornado hit Bridge Creek in 1999 he realized tornadoes did not lift up concrete slab floors.

Webb said he decided he could design and manufacture an above-ground safe room anchoring the steel room to the concrete slab using the same type of steel door his father had designed.

“This type of shelter is more conducive for handicapped and elderly customers,” Webb said.

Webb added he has installed 16 of the steel units inside garages on top of the garage floor with 12 to 15 anchor bolts going into the garage floor.

Each one of the bolts has 15,500 pounds sheer strength, Webb added.

“My wife and I were in mine yesterday in Midwest City,” Webb said.

Prices vary on the safe rooms but his price includes installation and sales tax in the Oklahoma City area.

“Our 5472 Model (4 1/2-feet by 6-feet and 6-feet 3-inches high) installed with tax included sells for $4,167.69. It is equipped with two top vents and a door that swings inward,” Webb said. “The unique feature on ours is the door with 3 sliding dead bolts locks 3/4-inch thick solid bar lock.

Four types of storm shelters are available including in-home, partially underground, safe room storm shelters and underground storm shelters. The newest underground shelters are in-garage storm shelters. These can be built above ground (safe room) or fully below. Both of these can be installed after a home is built.  

For more information about Armor Vault Southwest Engineering go to www.armorvault.com or call Mark Webb at 634-2841. For more information about Red Dirt Septic go to www.reddirtseptic.com or call 348-3478.