Failed Storm Door Brought to TTU for Research

A storm shelter door that broke up during a tornado, killing one woman, is brought to the National Wind Institute.
By: Meredith Hillgartner

LUBBOCK,TX- You should feel safe inside a storm shelter. 

But what happens when that shelter fails?

That is what happened to Mayflower, Arkansas resident Donald Greer on April 27, when a EF 4 tornado rolled through his town.

Greer said he and his wife got into their above ground shelter just as the storm hit, but a large piece of debris broke up the shelter door, knocking his wife into the wall.

"Broke my arm and knocked my wife back against the back wall and hit her in the back of the head," Greer said.

Ernst Kiesling with the National Storm Shelter Association at the Texas Tech National Wind Institute asked Greer if the door could be shipped to Lubbock for observation.

Greer happily handed the door over. 

Kiesling said he already has an idea of why the mechanism failed, and it is a common problem with shelters. 

"There is a tendency in the industry, I think, to use a door that is less expensive that has perhaps not been tested for debris impact resistance, because there is a cost savings there," Kiesling said.

So less expensive could mean less effective?

"Indeed it is," Greer said.

Kiesling said once the door has been observed, his department will make safety and design recommendations to storm shelter production companies.

Emergency management officials in Arkansas said the storm door had not been inspected by the state, and did not meet NSSA or FEMA requirements.

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