OWENSBORO, Ky. -- As victims of western Kentucky's recent tornadoes and high winds continue to clean up and rebuild, many are wondering "what about next time?" Disaster experts are encouraging residents to rebuild safer and smarter just in case. "A safe place and early warning are key elements to surviving a tornado," said Richard Payne, director of the Owensboro-Daviess County Emergency Management Agency.
As was seen in the May 1999, Oklahoma tornado, lives were saved by the use of Safe Rooms. For about four thousand dollars, residents can build a Safe Room that will help shelter them from future storms. Constructing a Safe Room while rebuilding a damaged home is even less expensive. Safe Rooms can be added during construction of a new house or be added to an existing house. These rooms are designed to protect individuals from the high winds of a tornado and the resulting airborne debris. "While homeowners insurance, government assistance and loans can help protect against property losses, no amount of money can replace the life of a loved one," said W.R. Padgett, director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. "Having a Safe Room built into or near your house can help protect yourself and your family from injury or death caused by the forces of extreme winds," according to Scott Wells, Federal Coordinating Officer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Owensboro Field Office.
The Kentucky Severe Storm Preparedness Committee, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are encouraging all Kentuckians to consider the benefits of a Safe Room. In general, it is easier to add or include a shelter or Safe Room during the construction of a new home rather than to retrofit an existing house. However, plans are available for adding a Safe Room to an existing structure.
Free copies of FEMA Publication 320: "Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House" are available at the Disaster Recovery Center, located in basement of the Daviess County Courthouse, 212 St. Ann St., OWENSBORO, Ky. or by calling 1-800-480-2520 to order a copy by mail. This booklet provides the detailed information that homeowners or contractors will need to build a shelter designed to withstand extreme wind speeds.