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Is there really a better choice for your family?


No above ground shelter that passed the stringent Texas Tech testing has ever failed during a tornado. While working around Joplin & Moore the days after the storms we saw above ground shelters still standing, while the rest of the house had been completely swept away. Above ground shelters saved lives.


In an online story from, Larry Tanner, a research associate at the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University, said researchers found 16 aboveground safe rooms or storm shelters in the damage path or near the damage path of the May 20, 2013 Moore, OK tornado. Tanner also noted that during the 2011 Joplin tornado that killed 158 people there were a total of 11 above ground shelters. “All of them were above ground. All of them had been tested in this laboratory. All of them performed excellently, and some of them were in the teeth of the storm.”

In a story first posted on CNN, Ernst W. Kiesling, Ph.D., P.E, a former professor of civil engineering at Texas Tech and Executive Director of the National Storm Shelter Association, toured the Moore tornado damaged area. “There’s a lot of lessons we can learn from this,” he said. Kiesling said he had heard news reports citing underground shelters as the only safe places Monday in Moore. “That causes my blood to curdle, because I’ve spent my career developing safe places above ground,” he said.

Tornado Place shelters are designed to withstand the forces of massive EF5 storms.

Going Outside IN A STORM IS Dangerous

Think about what you hear meteorologists say during a storm, “Don’t go outside!” For those who have backyard storm shelters, that’s exactly what you have to do to run from your home, through the yard, to get inside your shelter. Going outside is dangerous and you may be exposed to the flying debris while trying to take cover. High winds, hail, and lightening may cause some to delay the effort until the storm gets closer. The best shelter is one you can easily access and one you will use. Tornado Place can build your shelter in a bedroom, a bathroom, a stairway, or anywhere else in your home. 

Steps Are Not An Option For Many

As we get older, or those who have had knee or hip surgery, it is almost impossible to attempt to go down narrow and steep stairs to take cover. As our population ages, ADA compliant doors and handles to help our physically challenged population will become more common. Tornado Place shelters are ideal for people with limited mobility.



Below Ground Shelters Can Leak & FLood

I’ve heard numerous accounts of underground shelters that people would not use because they usually had standing water in them. They stink because of mildew and standing water and often have spiders. This doesn’t happen to all below ground shelters, but I have heard from many who regret the decision to go below ground. Since Tornado Place shelters are mounted above ground, flooding is nearly impossible.

Some People Have Been Trapped Below Ground

While it is only a small chance, if debris is covering the underground shelter’s door, it makes getting out difficult, if not impossible. Tree limbs, pieces of homes, and other things can land over shelter doors. As we designed our above ground storm shelters, we made sure the door swung inwards. This way debris, such as the roof of the home, would not keep us from opening the door. There have been malfunctions that have trapped people inside their below ground shelter. Read a story here from KFOR about a woman in Edmond trapped in 2012. Read this story about a Deer Creek woman and her 7-year-old son. Both women had negative experiences with their below ground shelters.


Water, oil, gasoline will seek the lowest level. Like many homeowners, we store our chemicals, oil, and gasoline for our mowers in the garage. I could not imagine being under the garage, and think of what would happen if any of that would drain into a space I was in. Storms create damage, a lot of damage. I have heard of people trapped in these below ground, garage shelters forced to stand in oil or gas. Tornado Place shelters are designed to keep you safe and dry.


Sometimes, rock formations or ground water make it impossible for homeowners to build underground shelters. We’ve had customers come to us to purchase above ground shelters who had tried to go below ground. The company digging found solid rock or too much water just below the surface, making excavating costly or impossible. This is not an issue for everyone, but for some. Our storm shelters are perfect if you have shallow bedrock, or a manicured lawn & garden. 

There Are Other Uses For Above Ground Shelters

We sell numerous above ground shelters to families who say they plan to use theirs as a gun safe and/or a panic room. The deadbolt lock on our shelter means it can be used to lock up important papers and/or property. During a crisis, a homeowner can quickly lock himself or herself inside to hide from an intruder. Storm shelter or panic room, Tornado Place keeps you safe.

You Can Move Our Shelters

Our TORNADO PLACE safe rooms can be disassembled and moved. Most never plan on moving, but it happens. With our panelized shelters, there is an option to keep the shelter in place to increase your home’s value, or take it with you. Our crews can disassemble our shelter to allow it to be moved and re-installed in your next home. This panelized shelter also means it can be assembled inside an existing closet. When space is not available in the garage, a spare closet can now be an option.



There was a time when below ground was the only option. Now a structure can be built, tested, and certified to withstand the forces of an EF5 tornado. I have seen certified shelters work. Our structural engineers have done wind load tests and certified them to be safe. We’ve passed the tests at Texas Tech on impact resistance. If I didn’t believe that above ground shelters were safe, I would not have started a business where lives would be in danger.

Charlie Willsey
Owner, Tornado Place

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