Local woman buys storm shelter for family members

Monday, April 30, 2007
Dorothy Moore, Fort Scott, watches as her sister, Jean Ham, tries out a new above-ground storm shelter recently placed in Moore's backyard. Their other sister, Helen Green, (right) was instrumental in getting the concrete shelter purchased and transported from Parsons to her sister's home in Fort Scott. Tribune photo/Jason E. Silvers

Dorothy Moore and her family can feel safer now in the event that severe weather threatens the area.

Moore and her husband, who live at 1524 E. Wall St., were recently the recipients of an outdoor above-ground tornado shelter from Moore's sister, Helen Green, also of Fort Scott.

The Moores rent the home from Green, who had been trying in recent months to locate an ideal storm shelter for her sister and brother-in-law, as well as their brother, Howard Ham, who also lives in the house.

The home has no basement or storm shelter, and Moore and her husband are dealing with health issues that made it difficult for them to relocate during severe storms, which are prevalent to the area during the spring. This is what led Green on a mission to find the bunker-style concrete storm shelter that now sits in the Moore's backyard.

"They were just sitting in that old house with no place to go," Green said. "I just wanted them to have a safe place to go. I wouldn't want to be sitting home in air-conditioning while they're over there sweating."

Green said she purchased the 6-foot tall metal and concrete structure from a Parsons-based company after months of searching for an ideal shelter that was also handicapped-accessible for her sister, who must use an oxygen apparatus daily, and her brother-in-law, who suffers from back problems.

Moore said the shelter is a welcome addition to her home, as it is much easier now for her family to seek shelter in the event of severe weather.

Green said after she read an article last week about tornado safety in The Fort Scott Tribune, she began to worry even more for her family's safety. There is also the concern that while storm shelters exist in other small, rural Bourbon County towns, most of which are handicapped-accessible, Fort Scott does not maintain one.

The shelter features 12-inch -thick concrete walls and has enough room inside to fit between eight and 10 people, along with some needed emergency supplies. The shelter is also large enough to accommodate people who are confined to wheelchairs, Green said.

Crews transported the shelter to the Moores' home in Fort Scott and then sat the structure down in the desired location. Green and her family then have to do the rest. The front, rear and sides of the shelter are encased in a mound of dirt, while people may enter through a metal door that faces the house. Green said she and her sister will eventually plant flowers on the dirt that surrounds the shelter in order to make the large structure appear more attractive.

But the mound of dirt also exists for another reason -- to make the shelter aerodynamic.

"I was told the tornado follows the dirt -- it goes right over it," Green said.

So now, when the winds pick up speed and the sirens blare, all Moore and her family have to do is step outside their back door, walk a few steps, and they are in the safe confines of the sturdy bunker.