Tornado Shelter – Part 5

Today’s forecast is for a moderate probability of strong thunderstorms including tornadoes. Storm chasers have taken up positions to the south west and south east of us. The arrival of professional storm chasers is always an ominous sign. I fretted and fretted about using the line of credit as I hate having any debt, but after the forecast yesterday, we decided to go out and buy enough plywood to give the shelter one layer. There is frugal and then there is penny wise and pound foolish. A pleasant surprise was finding out our little local lumber store in Glenella has prices that match Rona, plus great service, so we will be patronizing them first from now on. I didn’t have to climb up on my truck and load lumber. They have a fork lift to precisely place and stack stuff on top. I was very impressed.

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The shelter plan calls for two layers of 3/4 inch plywood. We added one this time. One layer is good enough for most severe weather that would involve some windows being knocked out by hail or maybe a small microburst. Not enough for say an F3, but pretty good.

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Hubby dearest is a bit paranoid about us being trapped in the closet so we have added an escape hatch at the end opposite the door. This is bolted in but if we find the door buried we can undo the bolts and pull the hatch door in, airplane emergency door style. Hopefully we won’t need it. You can also see our sump pump hole. We are going to use the leftover PWF stuff and make a proper cover and we have purchased a back up sump pump that will run on DC power because the place will flood in heavy rain if the power is out. The battery will be inside the closet and also give us DC lights.

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Finished trap door.

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A shelter is only as good as the door so we framed that in. No storm is sucking that door out! Inside is more problematic. The local lumber shop did not have any big heavy duty dead bolts as we put three of these little ones in for now but they are not adequate for keeping the door closed with heavy flying debris coming at it. We’ll work on better reinforcing today.

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And so we are kind of ready. Our plan is to finish and bolt in the escape hatch today, reinforce the door, and then begin stocking the space. We will move the pets kennels in first thing. That way if we need to take shelter, they can be locked up. I once took a dog through a car wash and I learned it is not pleasant to have a panicking dog in a small space. We will also put in a bench for us to sit on. We will also add emergency supplies in case we have to sit in it for an extended time or need to undo bolts or saw and pry debris in order to get out.

And the primary purpose of this space is storage, not shelter, and so I intend to put in lots of shelves, big ones, small ones perfect for canned goods, places for boxes, hooks to hang stuff, junk and treasures too good to toss. Oh glorious wonderful storage space! You shall be fulfilled soon.

The guy in the lumber store asked us what we were building. I told him a reinforced storage closet that could double as a shelter for a tornado. He went white and then described how his brother’s home was a mere 100 yards from the path of the infamous Elie Manitoba F5. He then added one more happy thought.

“And if you have this ready, you’ll never need it. This will be the cheapest insurance you ever paid for.”

I sure hope he’s right.

And as if to prove it:

Storm Concern

The professional storm chasers in their reinforced vehicles have converged on Manitoba and put out their own predictions and we are about 20km outside the upper bullseye.

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