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Schoolbus Tornado Shelter

Storm shelters don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Ask Jerry Moore of Ohatchee, Ala. Last April, he and 13 members of his family rode out a lethal tornado in a schoolbus that he buried in a hillside and covered with dirt nearly 20 years ago. After 6 hrs. in the bus, the family stepped outside to a tangle of downed trees and power lines. Moore’s two daughters and son’s mobile homes were wiped out. Moore’s frame home also had extensive damage.
  “We had always wondered if the bus would hold up in a storm,” says Jerry’s wife, Faye.
  A few miles away, Moore’s brother, Larry, and his family found shelter in a van he had covered with dirt. They also survived untouched though they lost three mobile homes in the tornado.
  Jerry Moore decided he needed a shelter after a series of tornadoes ripped through the area in 1994, including an F4 tornado that destroyed a church and killed 20 people on Palm Sunday in nearby Piedmont, Ala.
  The old bus didn’t run and the seats had been removed. Moore covered all the windows with scraps of tin and hired a backhoe operator to dig a hole in a bank on his property. The backhoe pulled the bus into the hole. Moore covered it with tarps, and the operator covered everything with dirt – 3 to 4 ft. on the sides and about 1 1/2 ft. on top. The back was left open to use the emergency exit as a door. The whole project took just a couple of hours.
  After nearly two decades, Moore says the bus is still stable and enough air comes in through the back door for short-term stays. He keeps water, food, blankets, flashlights and basic supplies in the bus, and the family uses it every time there’s a tornado warning. That’s pretty much every year in Alabama, Moore says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jerry Moore, 471 Pope Road, Ohatchee, Ala. 36271 (ph 256 283-8786).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #2