â??Living in the Texas Panhandle, of course tornadoes are a part of our everyday lives. I built a new home six years ago and there are three things I wanted to incorporate in that; a covered patio, an attached garage and some kind of tornado shelter,â?? said Ken Hanson, a local Amarillo resident, who has his own $4,000 storm closet in his home.
He says the closet is hardly noticeable and looks just like any other walk-in closet. Except for the thicker-than-normal walls and the heavy, large steal door with the three bolted locks. He says the extra cost hardly even phased him, because it was worth the money for the peace of mind.
â??Yes it was worth itâ?¦how much is your life worth when a tornado is bearing down on you? Yeah, itâ??s worth $4000,â?? said Hanson.
As the Panhandle heads into spring and the weather begins to change, the chance of severe and unexpected weather increases. KVII meteorologist, Brian James, warns that Amarillo residents should never get too comfortable with sunny days here in the Panhandle because a quick shift can change things very quickly. Although tornadoes are not prevalent to the area, Amarillo and the rest of the Panhandle is still on the edge of tornado and hail alleys.
â??We do know that we are in tornado alley, and you know some of the biggest tornadoes have happened in Oklahoma City, which is less than three hundred miles from us and we have had tornadoes in the past here,â?? said Darrel Podzemny, owner of ER-5 Shelters.
The average cost of one of Podzemnyâ??s steel shelters can cost between 3500 to 7000 dollars, depending on the size and capacity.
â??Itâ??s a small price to pay for the protection of your family,â?? Podzemny said.
At Vaughn Concrete Products, they build their concrete shelters with a steel reinforced cage and the concrete is done in a single pour or a single wrapped cage, which makes it stronger and more reliable. Keven Anderson, a Vaughn Concrete employee, says that this type of investment is worthwhile for any family in the area, but that, too often, his company does not see a boost in sales until after a severe weather event.
â??Youâ??re taking a chance and youâ??re risking your life, but a lot of people, they just wait and wait until it happensâ?¦ and then itâ??s too late,â?? said Anderson.