Report Details Shelter Door Failure in April Tornado

- MAYFLOWER, AR – A Mayflower woman inside an above ground storm shelter died during April’s tornadoes and researchers believed they knew why.

Researchers with Texas Tech University said the door on that shelter had a malfunctioning problem. They said that while the door was steel, it didn’t qualify to be a tornado safe room door.

They added that the door failure resulted from the door, frame and hardware all being used the wrong way.

Owner of Burgess Shelter King Storm Cellars, Jerry Burgess, explained that all shelter doors needed to be EF5 rated by FEMA standards for safety.

He also said when looking for the right door to get installed, make sure it has deadbolts that go into slots that are attached to a door frame anchored to the concrete.

Burgess advised people get shelters with stairs that are accessible for the elderly and pets.

“You want to make sure you can get down in it,” Burgess explained. “Make sure you can walk down in it and walk back out.”

TTU researchers said the malfunctioning door’s frame was installed as a “wrap-around” and the grout didn’t have any anchorage. They said there also weren’t any vertical steel stiffeners installed.

It was recommended that site constructed tornado safe rooms should be constructed in strict accordance to FEMA P-320.

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