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Storm Shelter/ Root Cellar
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G.G. in OK    Posted 01-29-2002 at 21:10:21       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hello, to all! I am new to this site and have been reading some post. Love the site! I have always been a country girl and a homebody, however, have always lived in very small "towns", and recently moved to the country (about 3 years ago). I am hoping someone will be willing to share some of their experiences,etc. with me because I'm sure I will be having LOTS of Questions in the future. I am a do-it-yourself person, having completed many projects, and am quite handy with a hammer, etc. I am presently remodeling our mobile home. We bought the mobile home as a tempory shelter to get us moved from small town to country (30 acres), however, It looks as though it may be our permanent residence. My hopes are to build a smaller home for just the two of us, a retirement home of sorts (when the kids leave home), however, I'll have to wait and see how things go. Anyways... I have a question I am hoping someone can help me with .......I live in Tornado Alley (OK), and last storm season the Tornado's came too close for comfort for me! I have always been fearful of tornado's having seen several just barely miss us. I actually saw one as it passed overhead and touched down just a few miles from were I was. Tornado season will be starting soon, and I'd like to be prepared. After investigating the options of what is available for purchase in my area, I find them to be either too small, or too expensive for my needs. I like the looks of the pre-poured concrete ones, however they don't make them large enough for my needs. I have several slopes on my land which face... East, South, and North, and most of our storms come from the Southwest (occationally from the Northwest). I am wondering if our sandy soil will be a problem. I do know from experience that some spots on our land we are able to dig several feet down, and other's we go down about a foot before hitting sandrock. I am thinking of placing it in the West bank (facing the East) as far as I am able to dig back and down, and then heaping the dirt around the sides, etc. I would also like a root cellar for later use, and am wondering if the cellar can double as both. I am interested in any and all options that anyone might suggest. At present I am considering a dirt cellar for a starter until my funds are a little less tightened. However, I haven't been able to find any information on how to build one, and... with our sandy soil- I'm afraid it might wash away.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, and I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!
GG in OK

Geneva G. in OK    Posted 02-05-2002 at 08:39:46       [Reply]  [Send Email]
WOW! What great suggestions, and such a variety! You guys/gals are really great in offering you suggestions. I can't wait to get started! However, will have to wait until the ground thaws out a little. We unfortunately got smacked by the ice storm and lost electricity for about a week. Up and going now though, and some folks around us still won't have electric for another week. I don't mind not having electric as long as I have heat. It sure is rough on the kids (teenagers), when they have to live without a TV and Ninetindo. Once again, THANKS for the suggestions, and I look forward to any more you may care to send!
Geneva G. in OK
(I'll be back!)

Paul J. Barnette    Posted 07-05-2002 at 12:32:21       [Reply]  [No Email]
I would like for you to share the suggestions given to you with me ,because I am also interested in building a root/storm cellar.

Thank you for your help.

Doc    Posted 02-02-2002 at 16:40:11       [Reply]  [No Email]
Two years ago I had a septic system installed at my camphouse. At the same time I bought a modified tank that the same people poured at their place of business ( it is just like the 1000 gallon tank except has no baffles)for $450 which is aproximately 6 by 6 or 7 feet. Came with a concrete top. Had to make a door for it and build the sides up 2 feet which was no problem. Had them put the dirt on the top of the unit. Has worked great! I did not seal it but have had no leaks.Total including backhoe was $650.

Paul J. Barnette    Posted 07-05-2002 at 12:43:12       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I would like all the information you could give me on the modified septic tank you installed to use as a root cellar. What part was bottom/top when you installed it? Was the door at the top or on the side? How did you build up the sides?
What kind of material did you use doing the work you did? Could this root cellar also be used as a storm shelter?

John Ne.    Posted 01-31-2002 at 23:27:01       [Reply]  [No Email]
Just north of you a bit is a county in Kansas, that requires the basement of all new homes to have a poured concrete cap. The floor of the house is on the concrete, but makes a great shelter, in one "alley" folks move their bedroom down there in the summer, hoping the house is still upstairs come morning. John in Ne.

geo in MI    Posted 01-30-2002 at 07:19:23       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm not anyways near an expert at this, but a couple of suggestions come to mind. First, how far away from your home would this shelter be, and would you have time to get there in case of a tornado? Seems like you might want something close by for instant protection, so you can grab Toto and dive in......

Second, wierd as this may sound, I would suggest that you get friendly(well, as friendly as you can stand it) with your local, septic pumper(if your tank hasn't been pumped since you moved there it needs to be, anyway) and if you position yourself away from the prevailing wind, you can find out who around there that he recommends for septic excavating. Reason: most of them network with each other and work in teams--one recommends the other.

This excavator will have the experience with your soil type and can recommend what is right in the long run for a good combination of storm/root cellar which should last forever and not leak and rot your winter veggies.

One consideration for a root cellar would be that just because it is in the side of a hill may not keep things from freezing in the wintertime. Seems like it would have to be deep enough and bermed so that the constant ground temperature(50 degrees) would keep it at the right temp and not allow thermal exchange from the outdoors to "creep" in during really cold conditions.

Another consideration, if you are thinking about a wood frame, covered with dirt, would be to avoid the use of treated lumber, especially for vegetable storage-----therefore you are faced with the possibilities of the frame rotting from dampness and having the thing cave in, or seep moisture, in a few short years.

Well, maybe that's enough opinion--when's the rutabaga stew ready?

PCC-AL    Posted 01-29-2002 at 23:38:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hi G.G.
I have seen some of the cement storm cellars, both commercial and homemade. Both were put in place by digging the hole with a backhoe and then covering the prefab shelter up. The backhoe did the job quickly.
Be careful about cave-ins if you try to make a dirt shelter. You have to support the walls and roof in some manner. Good luck.

Donna    Posted 01-29-2002 at 21:40:09       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Welcome to the group, I am also a self do it all, as hubby says, he always gets after me, you work to hard, but thats me, I cook from scratch, I cook on a wood cook stove {six burner with a warming tray and a water jacket, an Oakland }, I have a new electric range, but I prefer my woody, I raise
Registered Nubian Goats and Great Pyrenees Guardian dogs, I make my own cheese, soaps and loations, butter etc., I love it, and I know sometimes when I go to town I have to smell a little goaty, but when you need something and you need it now, you go dirty boots, cloths and all, sometimes I get back home and say, girl what is wrong here? and just go on, Hubby and I are debating a storm celler, we will be shopping next month, don't know anything about anything at the moment, I have a feeling they will cost more than we can afford.

Okie-Dokie    Posted 01-30-2002 at 13:04:04       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Welcome aboard from another Okie! Lots of very good folks here. Always quick to come to the rescue when you need good advice. You are right, living here in the center of Tornado Alley with-out a cellar is really living on borrowed time.The quickest and cheapest cellar I have discovered is one of those pre-cast concrete 2 piece things they haul out to your place along with a back-hoe and usually get the job done in less than a day for around $1500 bucks.A little less if they are having a slow month. A good place to start shopping is Hausner's in Drumwright, Okla. Good luck!

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