Tornado Disaster Storm Shelter

MOTHER EARTH NEWS teamed with architect Richard Acott, who created a storm shelter that can be used for tornado disaster preparedness.

| January/February 1987

Tornado storm shelter

MOTHER readers now have access to Richard Acott's tornado storm shelter plans.


MOTHER EARTH NEWS teams with Richard Acott, who developed storm shelter plans for tornado disaster preparedness which are now available to MOTHER readers. 

Tornado Disaster Storm Shelter

In 1985 alone, over 700 tornado touchdowns were reported across the U.S. Over 90% of those packed winds between 73 and 207 mph. Tornadoes have occurred in all 50 states and during every season, killing nearly 3,000 people in the past decade. Even destructive thunderstorms—capable of spawning full-scale tornadoes—can produce dangerous straight-line winds in excess of 60 mph, and coastal states are subject to hurricanes which create winds of even greater velocity.

So you'd think that guidelines for constructing a working storm shelter would be readily available from private or public sources, but, as Wisconsin architect Richard Acott discovered last year, they aren't. Acott spent several months researching, engineering, and developing plans for a storm shelter designed to hold 32 adults, or the population of a small mobile home park.

In an effort to extend this service to individuals and single families, THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff has worked with Mr. Acott to make available to our readers a set of plans for a 6 foot by 8 foot, eight-person, treated-wood shelter, designed for do-it-yourself construction and budgeted to cost around $700 in new materials. Because of the forces created by high velocity winds, sudden atmospheric pressure differentials, and flying debris, the shelter should be located below ground and protected by earth berming. It is designed to withstand winds of 260 mph, requires minimal maintenance, and can be used as a storage area or disguised with landscaping or playground equipment, if you wish.

The $15 plans package consists of :

  • A working blueprint sheet with floor plan, elevations, and all necessary details.
  • A 30-page booklet which addresses everything from subsoils to ventilation to damp-proofing and drainage; includes a materials list; and contains a wealth of information on tornado characteristics, emergency preparation, and disaster-recovery procedures.

Contact MOTHER EARTH NEWS about this current issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 103  for information on how to order your own set of storm shelter plans. 

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