Fatal Cave-In Raises Questions About Tornado Shelters

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This tornado season has many in Arkansas wonder if their tornado shelters will hold up to the winds when they need it most.

One woman was killed in central Arkansas inside an above-ground tornado shelter, after a twister tore through Mayflower.

Chancy Cockrum owns Secure Shelter in Van Buren. He sells above-ground tornado shelters. He said what makes his so safe is the accessibility and their ability to withstand an EF-5 tornado.

"We`ve dropped cars on them,” Cockrum said. “We`ve run over them.”

Cockrum said shelter sales have been steady this tornado season.

Officials with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said debris caved in the door, killing a Mayflower woman who was locked away in her storm shelter.

“Most likely, it did not meet the FEMA standards,” Cockrum said. “You have to have a concrete pad, five square feet per person, two vents for air to come in. The vents have to be guarded so no debris can come through it and three points of the door latching and your hinging system.”

Cockrum said those buying shelters should be mindful of who they are buying from.

“It takes about two-and-a-half to three hours to put one in,'' said Cockrum. “Most elaborate one we ever put in was about $15,000.”

The company said all of their structures are made of steel.

The National Weather Service said they are hoping to investigate the failed shelter soon.


  • yoyo

    Ever notice a lot of 5 news videos will not play? The little station that could…but doesn’t!

  • Burt Saxby

    Most likely your computer since I never have any problem with any of their videos, including this one. I have a Mac and use Chrome for my browser.

  • me

    Why question is how a story starts as indictment of shelters and ends as free advertisement? This isn’t a news story. It’s simply an advertisement and 5 news should be ashamed that a story has turned out this wrong! I thought journalist’s where supposed to be unbiased but this is far from it. Your story is no fact all opinion. Well it probably wasn’t. That’s no fact its an opinion and you should be ashamed to post this as news.

  • me

    I have always got my news from my 5 news app but not again. I will delete it after I post this. Ridiculous! Journalism has turned advertiser! Bye 5 news its been all downhill for your news department since drunky Burr left anyhow.

  • bobreal

    If you are afraid of bad Wx when the Wx gets bad; get in your Vehicle and go the opposite direction or get out and come in behiden it.

  • Chester Rockhard

    Do your homework, people. Research a purchase like this. Get several quotes and see what varieties are available to meet your needs, family size, etc.

  • Kuwanda

    5 news is wonderful. They do a great job for a market of this size and limited resources. I mean it is not like this area can support like even one media helicopter.

    Don’t be upset. Just be glad that we have decent local media outlets.

    Trust me, it could be far worse. Move down to some of the rural areas of Texas and you don’t even have a local news station.

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