Claremore Daily Progress

June 5, 2013

Local storm shelter sales on the rise

Mark Friedel
Claremore Progress

CLAREMORE —

Area storm shelter businesses are experiencing an increase in purchase orders following the recent tornado outbreaks across Oklahoma.
“My phone has not stopped ringing,” said Jason Birdsong, owner of Claremore’s J&T Sales. “In the 48 hours after the tornado hit Moore, I had 18 orders of purchases.”
Birdsong said, in the past, he would get in contact with a buyer 3-4 days after the initial purchase order, however, now for some, it could take weeks.
With the influx of business, Birdsong is contemplating whether or not to hire extra help to meet demands.
“I talked with another shelter business owner who had a similar experience after the 1999 tornado in OKC. He said I should ‘expect an increase volume state for the next two years.’”
In addition to installing storm shelters, J&T Sales operates septic and excavation service in the area.
“Septic installations and repair used to be my main source of business, but right now we are receiving so many calls in regards to shelters, our septic services only make up 33 percent of business,” said Birdsong.
He said the concrete, in-ground design of the shelters is engineered to meet and exceed FEMA standards and regulations.
Meteorologist and Past President of the National Storm Safety Association Tom Bennett of Jim Giles Certified Safe Room said business has absolutely increased.
Sapulpa-based Jim Giles Certified Safe Rooms has distributors in Tulsa, OKC and Dallas area. Distributors deliver into nearby towns and cities as well, including Inola and Claremore.
“We are experiencing more business now than we did after the Joplin tornado,” said Bennett. 
“We are having to schedule storm shelter installations four to six weeks out.”
Bennett said as a pre-manufactured vendor for above-groud safe rooms, they are ready for storm season early into spring. He clarified that as long as the saferoom is certified and meets FEMA standards, it does not matter if it is above or under ground.  
After the Moore tornado just less than two weeks ago, 16 above ground safe rooms were found in the damage path.
“All above ground safe rooms performed well with no issues,” said Bennett. “To tell people you must be below ground and make people decide to leave their protection and flee on the road during a violent tornado is just plain false. My colleagues and I will continue to educate the public to the misinformation about storm shelters through the NSSA and Tulsa partners.”