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Storm Shelter Pilot Program

Storm Shelters 3

Storm Shelter Pilot Program

Upbring Disaster Response is the case manager and point of contact for a pilot program to build storm shelters for people recovering from the tornadoes in and around Moore, Oklahoma.

We began our participation in the Storm Shelter Pilot Program as Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response (LSSDR). While our name has changed to Upbring Disaster Response, we remain diligent to our mission to serve those impacted by disasters in the Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana areas. With this project, we are taking our mission even further and helping residents avoid the loss of life during future tornadoes.

UPDATE: In May 2015, Upbring’s Storm Shelter Pilot Program won an award from National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

What is a Storm Shelter?

A storm shelter is a reinforced structure that provides near-absolute protection from flying debris during violent weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes. When built to the specifications put forth by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), these rooms will provide the occupants a very high likelihood of being protected from injury or death in a severe storm event. Storm shelters can be indoors or out, above ground or underground, built during home construction, or added later.

Storm Shelter Pilot Program

After the devastating tornadoes near Moore, multiple organizations began discussing what it would take to install storm shelters during the repair/rebuild process of the damaged homes. These organizations developed the pilot program to serve as the platform for creating and implementing national guidelines for future tornado-impacted communities around the country. In the process, it coordinated the construction and installation of hundreds of shelters for families recovering from the tornadoes that hit the Moore area.

The goals of the pilot project were:

  • Determine the proper type of storm shelter (above ground, below ground, prefabricated, site-built) to install in a repaired/rebuilt home.
  • Determine the Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG) process that would need to be implemented for storm shelters to be installed.
  • Develop a mechanism/process for handling the funding involved in storm shelter installation.

Our part in the program

LSSDR served in a case management role for the project, working directly with families to determine what type of storm shelter would best fit their needs. LSSDR also became a point of contact for the families if they had questions about the process, the shelter or how it would accommodate any physical limitations of family members or their property. LSSDR became a trusted advocate for the families as they journeyed through this process.

Preliminary Findings and Results

The pilot program aimed to install between 100-200 storm shelters during ongoing Long Term Recovery operations. By February 25, 2015, the 100th shelter was installed. Another 200 are expected to be installed in the duration of the project. Being a pilot program, the process was evaluated after a period of time. Some of the findings include:

  • The existing long term recovery process will work for installing storm shelters in any disaster.
  • A local point of contact for the storm shelter installations is critical to the success of the program.
  • Partnering with the National Storm Shelter Association to install the shelters was an important first step.
  • A funding mechanism has been developed and refined during the pilot.
  • Installing storm shelters not only protects people but offers a peace of mind as well.

For more information on the Storm Shelter Pilot Program and Upbring’s involvement, please contact:

Grant Gatschet
Program Director
Upbring Disaster Response
[email protected]

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