Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's in! Everything you never knew you wanted to know about tornado shelter installation. (Picture heavy)

Alternate Title: How Frightened, Paranoid People Restore a False Sense of Security in as Little as One Afternoon

Darrell and I were joking the other day, after that last trip up to the church, about how funny it would be if a huge tornado ripped through our area, wiping out our home and everyone in it while our storm shelter sat outside in the yard, uninstalled and completely intact. Actually, that wouldn't be the ha-ha kind of funny, as much as the ironic/isn't that weird kind of funny. Obviously. Just to clarify, we do not sit around laughing at the thought of our family being wiped out in natural disasters.

But, I betcha now we won't have another tornado warning all year. Probably not even a watch. The scary, threatening storms are done. How do I know? Because... We are now the giddy owners of an in-ground tornado shelter. And doesn't it stand to reason that if you've just plunked down fraploads of money on such a thing, you will never actually have to use it? In my world, yes it does.

The excitement started around here bright and early last Saturday morning. The Backhoe Man came over, ready to start digging a ginormous hole for our shelter. BUT...

He informed Darrell that our chosen location (one that Darrell and I spent quite a bit of time *discussing*) wouldn't work because there was nothing but solid rock down there. Of course.

So, Darrell chose a new spot while I was inside, blissfully ignorant of any problems.

It is right outside our back door.

I'm making a face right now. Too bad you can't see it. If you could, then I wouldn't have to tell you that this is the spot where I absolutely did not want to put the shelter. Who in the %&#* (heck) wants a big hill with a door attached, smack-dab outside their back door?

The upside is, the kids won't have far to go if we ever need to make a mad dash in the middle of the night. All we need to do is open the back door and we're there. That's nice. Very convenient... Of course, it won't be so convenient if a tornado knocks our house down on top of the shelter door, trapping all of us down there, but what do I know? Apparently, as I've been informed by my spouse, Mr. Science, tornadoes almost always travel from southwest to northeast, so the debris should fall away from our shelter's door, not on top of it. Oh. Good. I hope the tornado knows that.

I'm making that face again.

In Darrell's defense, I should add that he didn't really want the shelter there, either. But considering the layout of our yard and the cruddy type of ground we have (rocky), it was the best place to put it.

Anyway.... The Backhoe Man started digging a new ginormous hole (directly outside my back door).
Not to insult your intelligence or anything, but this is the ginormous hole to which I am referring. You probably could have gathered that much on your own. It's much bigger than it appears. There's only so much you can do or say to make a picture of a hole interesting, so let's move on, shall we?Next, the shelter is hooked up to the backhoe, to be lifted and lowered into the hole.These steel poles go through the bottom of the shelter. Concrete will be put over them, which helps anchor the whole contraption into the ground. And here is Evan, trying out his best "Exhaustion Pose," to make it appear as if he's working really hard instead of standing around. There appears to be a beer can on the ground, but we do not litter our yard with beer cans. I promise. That's actually my contractor's can of Full Throttle. And yes, he did go back and pick it up. Good man.Next, the shelter has to be leveled in the hole.The air vents are added. This is the favorite step as far as the Claustrophobic One is concerned. However...The vents (there are two) will stick up obnoxiously above the already-obtrusive-enough hill that will be right outside my back door. You can see in this photo just how close the shelter is to the house. Oh... I feel that face coming back.Then, bags of concrete are put all around the bottom, on top of those steel poles. They are torn open and wet down. This seemed weird to me. I wondered why the concrete isn't mixed up and poured into the hole. But this is how the shelter salesman says it's done, and my contractor assures me this is right, so who am I to argue?You'll notice that Alex seems to be the only one in these photos working. So... Where is Darrell? Where is my trusty contractor? Hmmm...

Oh... Here he is.
Just joking. He was right there working, too. That shot was from last Christmas (Sorry, Darrell. Remember... you like my sense of humor). In fact, not only was Darrell working on ours, but it looks as if he's going to continue working on others. He's gotten enough interest in these to get a dealership going and start selling and installing them. He already has several customers lined up (which means I'm not the only one in town traumatized by these recent storms). I have a funny feeling my shelter is going to become the demo model, with total strangers showing up telling me Darrell sent them over to take a look inside ours.Next, straps that go completely over the shelter, are bolted down and anchored by these big, long spike thingies that screw down through the concrete and into the ground. Of course, the weight of the wildebeest sitting inside with her whole family will also help ensure that a strong tornado cannot suck the whole thing up out of the ground.They filled the hole back up with dirt, which will be watered down and packed in, with more dirt being added over the next few days as it settles. And there you have it. You gotcherself a tornado shelter. Obviously, it will eventually have grass growing over it and blend in with the rest of the yard, so it won't always look quite this tomb-like. I've also just been told by my contractor that those air vents can be cut down after we're finished so they won't stick up quite this much. Now, for the inside:

The Apprehensive Descent

From the outside, looking down, it really does feel as if you're stepping down into a coffin. It looks much smaller than it is, from out here.There's plenty of room inside for all of us, our little survival kit (h2o, first aid, snacks, etc.), plus a few visitors...Like these! They can come and go through the air vents. I hadn't thought of that. Isn't that nice? (Terrible picture, I know, but aren't they always?)This is my cheesy, "wave at the camera, kids" shot...And this shows the boys' feelings about my cheesy, "wave at the camera, kids" shotSo, that's it. And to the two of you who remained for this whole boring post, I thank you. I should give you a prize just for staying.


sassy chic said...

chelle I do hope this means that you are going to stomp out that fear thingy for good! If not we need to meet up again and take care of this! :) loving your shelter, but I am wondering are there lights?

Elaine said...

We had a bad storm go through here Friday night (though not nearly as bad as the one you were in), so that prompted someone at church on Sunday to talk about her experiences in storms and storm shelters, and she was saying to always have an ax in your storm shelter in case a tree (or your house, I suppose) falls across the door and block you in. If you have an ax, you can chop your way out. Which she apparently did once. Well, at least one of the menfolk in her family did. Just something to think about.

Lina said...

LOL LOL. Can you put screens in to keep the bugs out??? It looks like a big shower to me. Cozy even. Not bad for a storm shelter. Thanks for sharing!


Anonymous said...

I can totally picture "the face."

Now that it's in, I hope you never have to use it!

Christina said...

Well hooray for a nice safe place right out your back door! Now with just a few flowers and whatnot, it will blend in perfectly...

Jeff said...

I like it. We had a tornado come through two years ago that destroyed several houses around. I think it's a great idea. I liked the pictures.

Rebecca said...

I saw your shelter on the news today! They said that it is safer then a basement!!! I am so glad that you were able to get one~

Plowboy said...

Was I one of the two? Do I get a prize?