By Kevin Fox
There was a time in America when a great many homes and farms had a storm/root cellar in their back yards, Although this is a thing in the past, there is still a need for shelter in the time of storm. Bobby Plenge of Rural Kahoka, recently constructed a tornado shelter, which is quite the thing to see. On Thursday, July 5, Bobby Plenge explained to this reporter how the shelter came about, “ My daughter lives in Fulton, Missouri, which is along the tornado alley. She decided that she wanted a storm shelter and she began looking into buying one. She found concrete ones as well as steel ones. When she found a steel one that she liked, I and Rudd Binsbacher (Bobby’s neighbor) looked at one in Fulton. I had already decided that I could make one for less than she was asking for one. So I ordered the steel, (3 / 16) which was already bent and cut for the size they needed to be so all I had to do was weld it up. But after I looked at the shelters on the market I made certain modifications. For example the shelter, which we built, has benches in it. It also has shelves in it, so you could put some food items on those shelves or water. I believe that the shelves and benches add to the overall strength as well. The biggest difference however was that the doors on their models were designed to be swung open. Well I have a rough time believing that a storm or tornado would hit with so much force as to destroy everything and not pile debris in front or on top of your shelter, making opening the door impossible. So the door on our shelter swings in to open. It also has gussets in the corner so the door cannot be swung out. The door also has pins in it to lock it shut. But I have designed it so that if it would happen to be locked unintentionally, you can pull the pins out of the locks from the roof. There are also vents in the shelter as well. This shelter will be placed in her garage where there is an electrical outlet. So I designed an opening in this shelter, which will slide over that outlet so she can reach the outlet to plug in a fan or whatever she would want to plug in. She can also use it for a pantry if she wishes to as there is more room in it that it appears. The shelter is 6 feet high, 4 across by 5 feet wide. It weighs just slightly over a thousand pounds and will be bolted to the concrete floor in the garage with about 26 half inch anchor bolts.”
It took Bobby along with help from Rudd a little over a week of working every morning on the project. Bobby figures that he has about $1000 in material in the shelter, and not figuring his time and the paint, so roughly $2,500 while the model they looked at went for $4500. Plenge believes his shelter is just as strong or perhaps stronger than the model they looked at, although he hopes he never has to find out.