Underground Safe Havens

April 10, 2006 -- 6:50 PM CST


HARRISBURG, AR -- Severe weather hasn't been a stranger to Region 8, that's why Merle Williams of Poinsett C ounty Emergency Management said that underground safe rooms are a must.


"The recent tornados have shown us how very, very important they are," said Williams.     


Safe rooms can cost thousands of dollars.    Homeowner Judy Garner chose not to get a safe room, she chose an outside storm shelter instead.


"I would have loved to have one, but it would be so expensive," said Garner.   " I don't think I could afford that."     


Garner’s shelter can hold 12-20 people, andWilliams said that it's important to have bolts on the shelter door.  


"When a tornado comes over, it creates a vacuum," said Williams.  "The vacuum will tend to pull the door out, so it's very important to have at least three bolts to bolt that door and hold it well."   


He also said that seeking shelter underground isn't enough, a Noah Weather Alert radio is just as important.  


"When a storm comes, the Noah Weather Alert will interrupt the station, or it will come on...even if the radio is not turned on," said Williams.                 


The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) provides financial help for residents to construct safe rooms or in-ground storm shelters built on their property.   Homeowners can receive a 50 percent rebate, or $1,000, whichever is cheaper.


Garner said that she applied for the rebate last week.


"It cost me $1800 dollars to put it down and I think it's about half, that you get back...so really the cost is like $900 dollars," she said.      


For information on rebates the state offers, visit the ADEM website, www.adem.ar.us.