Will A Basement Keep You Safe During Severe Weather?

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By Ashley Thompson

Why don't homes in Moore, Oklahoma have basements? It's a question some are now asking after an F5 tornado devastated the city.

Here in Montgomery, basements are also rare, but why? And where can people go to protect themselves during a tornado?

People in Oklahoma are now beginning to pick up the pieces after a deadly tornado touched down killing at least 24 people. Some of those killed were in their safe spot but it wasn't safe enough. Experts often advise people to head to a basement when severe weather is underway, though the majority of homes in Montgomery don't even have one.

"People that are from Montgomery who have bought houses in Montgomery don't want a basement," says realtor Morgan Bell. "They're scared of basements."

Bell says homes in the river region don't have basements because they would flood. He tells Alabama News Network that heavy, permanent moisture in the city's soil causes major leakage.

"Clay soils that absorb moisture leaches through brick or block, whatever your walls are made of in your basement. It'll seep through the material and into your basement."

That flooding could actually cause a basement to become more dangerous than safe during severe weather. CBS News reports seven children in Oklahoma drowned while taking cover from the tornado, in their school's basement. That's why some say a basement is not always the safest place. Dean Qadri, who builds storm shelters across Alabama, is one of them.

"People have died in collapsed basements so basements are better than being above ground but that is not a substitute for a storm shelter," he says.

Qadri says storm shelters protect from flooding and any other damage a tornado may bring.

"It's those airborne particles which act as missiles," he explains. "And they come and they strike. That's where you have the most problems, most of the damage, and most of the fatalities unfortunately."

After losing both his sister-n-law and his niece to a tornado, Billy Myers of Elmore County put in a storm shelter. He says it will hold about 50 people, enough for everyone in his neighborhood.

"Ours is in and we don't turn anybody away because as long as it can pack one more in, then that's the thing to do."

Quadri says that it will cost you about seventy-five hundred dollars to put in a storm shelter that holds about twelve people.

 

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