No Basement Bunker?
Tornadoes have been around since the dawn of time. Residential housing not so much. It’s no surprise that tornadoes regularly strike populated areas. Today there are many more people spread across the land that it’s inevitable these collisions of man and nature will happen more and more. So why do many homes in tornado alley not have a basement or basement bunker?
News reports of devastation show slab foundations wiped clean. So why would you live in a high-density tornado zone and not have a basement shelter?
Urban sprawl has people living in areas where humans just don’t belong, like tornado ally and flood plains. Homes in these areas are usually built on a concrete slab with no basement. Other areas are too rocky to afford a cheap excavation of a basement. This can leave occupants open and vulnerable.
Better Zoning or Better Buildings:
So, the problem comes down to building codes and providing either a more suitable place to build or devising a structure that can withstand 300 mph winds. Stick frame structures are out, unless you spend an extra 20k+ to build an internal bomb shelter closet made of reinforced concrete and steel. Even then, there’s no guarantee. The safest place is underground.
Is there a solution?
It boils down to either moving or having a better building plan. Earth shelter homes are a great alternative. Excavation cost and permitting is a consideration. Earth berm construction affords better protection.
You DO have a basement bunker?
If you have a basement, that’s great! Now be ready to use it. Prepare it every season and perform drills to use it as a safe zone with your family. A tornado or emergency kit is recommended. It’s also a good idea to store some freshwater, non-perishable foods, and survival gear. This way you’ll be ready for any emergency….or any unexpected situation, like the current coronavirus pandemic.
UPDATE: We have found an interesting possible solution – Backcountry Containers builds extremely sturdy housing modules that can be used as underground bunkers or secure above-ground earth shelter homes. Combine different modules to build a steel-reinforced castle of your own! We found them at EAA 2013. They donated a housing unit to a family in need after the El Reno, Oklahoma twister on May 8, 2013.
This article was written after a 2013 tornado outbreak in the Midwest. Updated in 2020 for the coronavirus outbreak.