The Web site for the City of Moore, Okla., recommends “that every residence have a storm safe room or an underground cellar.” It says below-ground shelters are the best protection against tornadoes.But no local ordinance or building code requires such shelters, either in houses, schools or businesses, and only about 10 percent of homes in Moore have them.Nor does the rest of Oklahoma, one of the states in the storm belt called Tornado Alley, require them — despite the annual onslaught of deadly and destructive twisters like the one on Monday, which killed at least 24 people, injured hundreds and eliminated entire neighborhoods.
This is a town that has seen two 200+ MPH tornadoes rip through it in 14 years, and a state that sees tornadoes every year. But there's no building codes to include shelters because DON'T TREAD ON ME.
Construction standards in Moore have been studied extensively. In a 2002 study published in the journal of the American Meteorological Society, Timothy P. Marshal, an engineer in Dallas, suggested that “the quality of new home construction generally was no better than homes built prior to the tornado” in 1999.Few homes built in the town after the storm were secured to their foundations with bolted plates, which greatly increase resistance to storms; instead, most were secured with the same kinds of nails and pins that failed in 1999. Just 6 of 40 new homes had closet-size safe rooms.Mayor Glenn Lewis of Moore said that since then, the town had strengthened building codes, including a requirement that new homes incorporate hurricane braces. The city has also aggressively promoted the construction of safe rooms and other measures, with more than $12 million from state and federal emergency management funds to subsidize safe-room construction by offering a $2,000 rebate, said Albert Ashwood, the director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Still, he said, it has been several years since Moore has received new financing for the program.
I'm trying to figure out how a shelter makes a $200,000 home suddenly unaffordable. Does the safe room double the cost of the house somehow? You live in Tornado Alley in the era of climate change and super storms. Guess what? You have to adapt, folks. Most of all, those federal taxes you pay actually go to something when disasters happen.
Because believe me, Moore will be hit by another tornado someday. It's most likely going to not take 14 years for it to happen, either.