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Safe Room Initiative Pays Off for Oklahoma Resident

MOORE, OK - Charles Atchley and his wife escaped unscathed after the 1999 Oklahoma tornado, but decided not to take their good fortune lightly. They took advantage of a FEMA tornado initiative ($2,000 rebate) and installed a below-ground safe room. During the tornado of May 8, 2003, Atchley and his three grandchildren took shelter in his safe room.

His wife was at work at the time of the storm. He quickly took shelter after hearing the warning siren. When the storm passed, his family left the shelter safe and sound. Once again, this family was lucky and had no damage to their home, but Atchley said the storm shelter gives him "peace of mind" he wouldn't trade.

The shelter unit is neatly recessed into the ground and only the door can be detected nestled within the manicured landscape of the backyard. Atchley has stocked his safe room with the necessary supplies for survival and even included a black-andwhite TV that runs on batteries. "I even get reception in the storm shelter," he boasted.

The below-ground shelter is a prime example that shelters don't have to be eyesores because the only trace visible on this unit is the access and two wind-driven turbines for air circulation.

The City of Moore has established a shelter registration program. Property owners with shelters register with the fire and police departments so their shelter can be checked following a tornado in the event debris has fallen on the ground-level doors. Having a noisemaker such as a whistle in the shelter supplies is recommended.

“You never know when you have to make a little noise to let emergency personnel know you’re safe and sound in your shelter,” states Atchley.