Family Stays Safe With Tornado Room

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COLUMBIA - Families looking to take the extra step in making sure they're safe during a storm can have tornado rooms or shelters put into their homes. Some businesses advertise shelters online that can hold five or more people. Some shelters, made out of galvanized steel and iron, can be bolted to the ground in a person's garage or carport. While these shelters are made above ground other businesses sell shelters that can be put underground and hold more people.

Home builders in Columbia say the shelters are not very popular here because more people have basements now and the shelters are expensive. A two-person tornado safe room can be delivered and installed in a person's garage for about $3,500. Nonetheless, a home designer says people feel more comfortable with them.

"It's a place for you to go to take shelter until the storm's gone," Majestic Homes Owner Charles Clark said. "I mean you're house may be completely destroyed around it, but at least you're still alive."

Columbia resident Jessica Nittler has a tornado room in her basement below ground. It is much bigger than the rooms advertised online.

"When we saw that there was a room in this house that kind of served this dual purpose for us, we were like 'Oh this is perfect,'" Nittler said.

The room wasn't Nittler's idea. The people that lived there before had it put in. Dry wall was installed over the concrete so it looks likes an ordinary room in the house. 

"You wouldn't know it's a concrete room," Nittler said.

Clark said he's installed just one tornado room in his 20 years of construction in Columbia while that business out of Tennessee sells five and six room shelters, installed above ground,  for bigger families.