IN-HOME SHELTERS COULD EASE EVACUATIONS
September 12, 2005
LUBBOCK – What’s good for a tornado is good for a hurricane. That’s the case, at
least, for in-home shelters proven to withstand tornado-force winds.
Texas Tech wind researchers are advocating the use of these shelters inside homes
located in hurricane-prone regions, especially since many of these regions – like
Florida – are too heavily populated to allow for proper evacuations.
“Structures that do well as tornado shelters should certainly do well in regions that
see a lot of hurricanes,” said Dr. Ernst Kiesling, a professor in Texas Tech’s Department
of Civil Engineering. “We are certainly advocating the use of residential shelters
in these areas.”
However, Kiesling warned, the shelters should not be placed in flood-prone areas.
If used properly, these shelters could ease the burden on crowded traffic corridors
as people try to evacuate ahead of hurricanes, Kiesling said, by allowing some residents
to remain safely in their houses.
This could be essential since travel is often limited in these areas – especially
considering that the uncertainty of storm tracking leads to calls for evacuation from
a much larger area than is ultimately required. However, most people tend to resist
until the last minute, since evacuation can be inconvenient and costly.
Texas Tech’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center tests the strength of building
materials using a wind cannon. The cannon allows simulation of debris hurled by some
of the largest tornados seen in the United States. Since winds seen in tornados are
often stronger than those seen in hurricanes, these shelters should also provide protection
against hurricane-generated gales.
The center has performed dozens of product tests for an international slate of manufacturers
and organizations like the Portland Cement Association, The Engineered Wood Association
CONTACT: Ernst Kiesling, professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Texas Tech
University, (806) 742-3451, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.