Storm Shelter Installation -
Lawton, Oklahoma House
June 2 - 13, 2014
In our second home in Oklahoma
there is the fear of tornadoes. Tornadoes, which are
almost statistically impossible in El Paso,
TX, are never given much thought. I say
"almost" because you never know...
A few sleepless nights in Oklahoma during a few
tornado warnings convinced my husband that he would
not feel safe until he had a hole to hide in.
After researching different shelter options, he
decided on a garage safe room. This is a storm
shelter that is installed into the ground in the
garage of your home.
The company we contacted to install the storm
Thunderground Storm Shelters. (no
longer in business prior to March 2018, when I
proofread this page) My husband
chose this company because they had the jumbo tall
size which has a height of 6' 3". He wanted
something he could stand in without hitting his
After contacting the company in February 2014 and
agreeing to the terms, they sent us a contract.
We paid a $300 deposit and were told they would
contact us at the end of April to schedule an
installation date in May.
A couple of things you need to check on before
1) What kind of foundation do you have on your house. Is it the good
ole cement slab or the newer post-tension cable
system. Our Oklahoma home is older, so it is
cement slab. With a post-tension cable system
you will need to bring in another contractor to cut
the cables and repair the cables after.
2) Mileage charges. Because the city our house
was in was not the same as the company's, they
additionally charged us for mileage.
3) Is the entrance to your garage large enough to
get the shelter in? As you will see in the
photos below, it was a tight fit on our house.
4) Do you have any plumbing where you plan on
putting the hole? You may not know until the
project begins. We didn't.
5) Does your city require a permit and pre and post
installation inspections? Our city did.
And there is a fee. Find out from the storm
shelter company who will contact the city inspector
and take care of the fee.
6) Does the company charge based on the amount of
hours they think it will take? If
they have to come back a second day, will they again
charge for mileage and the additional time?
Below are the photographs of the installation
Day 1 - the installation
process should only take one day UNLESS there are
some problems along the way. Which we did
The truck arrived at our home and
the crew started unloading their truck
The storm shelter was taken off
the truck and loaded onto a dolly
The storm shelter was pulled and
pushed into our garage. Note the tight fit.
The storm shelter finally
squeezed all the way into the garage
The storm shelter pushed to the
back of garage out of the way
The floor of the garage was
marked and crew began cutting the cement
Cement being removed
After this point
there are no photographs of the plumbing they came
across. What the crew discovered was that the
cement was much thicker towards the inside of the
garage. Which can be seen in the photograph
below. They needed to use a jack hammer to get
through the cement. Also, sure enough, a water pipe
went right through where the hole was going to be.
Needless to say, the installation process was halted
until my husband found a plumber to re-route the
plumbing so it would not be in the middle of the
If we had known there was a pipe here, we would have
had the hole dug on the other side of the garage.
So much for the city inspector who should have known
where the pipes were or should have had a copy of
the building plans at the city office to review. So
do not trust that your city inspector has a clue
of what is going on.
Since it is almost impossible to get a plumber
immediately, the crew packed up and left. It
took a few days to get a plumber to the house to do
the job of re-routing the pipes and a few more days
to get the crew back to finish the job. The
final installation was done on June 13, 2014.
These photos are below.
The now completed shelter hole
above shows the thicker concrete at the back of the
hole and the water pipes moved to the edge of the
Dried cement placed on the bottom
of the hole and then water added
pores the concrete in dry and then adds water as
opposed to having a cement truck pore in ready mixed
concrete. Hmm..... I am wondering how you know
if you have added enough or too little water.
Final preparations before
lowering the shelter
Lowering the storm shelter into
Almost all the way in...
Crew stabilizing the shelter and
making sure it is level
Cement going in the sides
Cement finished being added to
Pre-mixed cement added to level
out the floor
My husband waited 24 hours before
going inside the shelter to allow the cement to set.
The photographs below are of the inside.
Because of the tight space, it is almost impossible
to get a photo of the entire inside.
The stairs going down into the
shelter are very steep. Probably best to go in
backwards, like going down a ladder. I also
suggested that my husband pick-up some of those
sandpaper like stick-on anti-slip tapes for
the stair treads. The metal treads are
slightly corrugated, but this will be useless under
any wet conditions.
The shelter has two wood benches
that are covered in carpeting. They run the
length of the shelter through the stairs. My
husband bought an area rug for the floor of the
The shelter company provided a
battery operated light but my husband added another.
He also purchased a weather radio that will be kept
in the shelter. He has another by his bed.
Under the stairs are where we
stored drinking water, a first aid kit, blankets,
batteries, some food, etc. Enough stuff to last a
few days in case the worst happens.
The latch for the sliding door
After the storm shelter was
installed, my husband contacted the city's Storm
Shelter Registry to register our storm shelter.
This way if the worse happens and the house is
destroyed, they will know to look for us under the
rubble. It is a good idea to let any
friends, neighbors, or relatives know also.
This house was sold in 2019.
We installed another garage storm shelter in 2021 at
our newer house. See the 2021 installation