Picture this: You’re relaxing at home on a Sunday afternoon about half past five, when you hear the sirens wail: tornado warning. You look to the west, but you don’t see a funnel cloud—just a towering black curtain across your field of view, like a big thunderstorm. You peer into the darkness. As the screen of rain pushes past you, the sky lightens. But then you hear the sound: a rumble, a roar, like an enormous freight train. Trees start to thrash around, shingles fly off a nearby roof, and you realize: “It’s a tornado. It’s a big tornado. It’s a—huge—tornado.”

Then your windows blow in.

We Are Joplin - BUILDER July 2012 - Ted Cushman


This terrifying experience became reality for thousands of Moore residents—and most of them had no underground cellar or storm safe room to take shelter.

The story was similar in Joplin, Mo. where there also weren't storm-shelter requirements and a 2011 tornado leveled large areas of the town, killing 160.

Tornadoes aren't going anywhere, either. The infamous strip of the United States known as Tornado Alley is actually growing. The "New Tornado Alley" stretches into southeastern states such as Georgia and Florida.

Not surprisingly, demand for storm shelters has already shot up. Brad Webb of Stormsaferooms.com told USA Today that his phone has been blowing up since the Moore tragedy. His above-ground safe rooms are designed and tested to withstand 250-mph winds and debris.

"They would have easily survived the 200-mph winds reported from Oklahoma," National Storm Shelter Association head Erns Kiesling recently told USA Today. Shelters like these can be especially useful in areas like Oklahoma, where the clay and bedrock aren't conducive to building underground shelters.

Now, all Moore can do is begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild—hopefully with plans for future disaster in mind.

Andrew Knight is a content producer at Hanley Wood Media. Tweet at @AndrewKnight_HW