Company makes survive-a-storm tornado shelters that hold 16 people, cost $8,000

AKRON, Ohio - If you don't feel safe from a tornado in your basement or the lowest level of your home, how about investing in a 10-gauge steel shelter buried seven-feet below ground?

Survive-a-Storm shelters, based out of Thomasville, Ga., has sold about 2,000 units across the U.S. and the company is getting a lot of attention following the massive tornado that struck Oklahoma on Monday.

"Our website had over 10,000 unique visitors yesterday alone," said Matt Williams, the company's vice president of government affairs.

The 16-person shelter looks like a giant dumpster, but on the inside you'll find a painted, metal chamber with three benches. The top of the unit has a door handle and you walk down stairs to get inside.

"This shelter is designed and engineered to take a direct hit from an EF5 tornado, which is winds of 250 miles per hour or more," Williams said.

The cost of the shelter offers "near absolute protection" and costs around $8,000.

"It's a fairly small price to pay when you're looking at a situation of needing to provide shelter for your family," Williams explained.

Most of the Survive-a-Storm shelters have been sold in southern states such as Georgia and Alabama, but Williams said the company is expanding operations in Ohio.

"We expect that we're probably going to sell between 300 and 500 storm shelters this year alone in the state of Ohio," he said.

More than 900 Ohioans applied for a grant through the Ohio Emergency Management Agency to get one of the shelters.

Some 155 residents were awarded a shelter through a lottery system, and the company expects to begin installation within the next couple of weeks.

The grant covered up to $6,000 for the cost of each shelter with the homeowners picking up the remaining tab.

Williams said the company also offers shelters that double as pool rooms or saunas with cedar wood on the inside.

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