Storm shelters may require permits - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Storm shelters may require permits

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

With tornado season quickly approaching, you may be thinking about where your family would go in the event of a disaster. A storm shelter seems to be the obvious choice, but you may want to make sure your plans are up to code.

After seeing the devastating images coming out of the Midwest, Lubbock homeowner Jerry Reider decided to put in a shelter to protect his family.

"We live in what is commonly known as tornado alley. We've had quite a few severe storms, so I thought it would be a good idea," Reider said.

Reider contacted a company out of Oklahoma called Flat Safe. They install storm cellars underneath your garage. Flat Safe is endorsed by FEMA and the National Association of Storm Shelters. However, just to be safe, Reider made a call to the city building inspector Steve O'Neal to ask if the installation was safe.

"Mr. O'Neal down at the city clued me in on some potential hazards of putting a cellar in your garage," Reider said.

O'Neal said that although Flat Safe is endorsed by these organizations, that doesn't mean they are necessarily safe to install in an existing structure. City engineers would have to inspect the individual properties to decide if they can move forward and be issued a permit. O'Neal says no one has yet to apply for any permits for cellars like this.

After hearing the facts, Reider ultimately decided against installing a Flat Safe shelter in his garage. He just hopes the storm winds don't come knocking at his door anytime soon.

"They have their reasons and I assume they are experts in their field. Being that I'm not, it would do me good to listen," Reider said.

The City of Lubbock does not require individuals to obtain a permit if they are installing a free standing shelter, not attached to the original structure of the home, that is under 200 square feet.

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