It is Tuesday, May 24, 2011 and the weather guessers are warning us, around 65 miles east of the recently pulverized Joplin, Missouri, that another round of possible tornado-producing storms could strike later tonight and again tomorrow.
One reason for the high death and injury rate in Joplin is that many folks do not have a basement or underground hidey-hole.
Various reasons for that.
Some financial. Some due to topography and/or geography/geology, etc.
My shanty is cellar/basement-less partially due to the substrata under the shanty and likely also at least partially due to the long-term entrenched poverty within this area.
Ample po’ folk hereabouts.
Still, one can prepare for calamities and at a relatively low cost and minimal effort.
Not wanting to cringe in fear or mortal terror as debris pass through shanty walls with a tender, delicate Old Coot body intercepting some or more of those often-fatal high-velocity intruders I created the best in-shanty shelter possible.
And here it is; an Official Coot Closet designed to maximize survival odds.
We will begin our tour in my bedroom.
To the right is an inner closet that is an aspect of the shelter closet but is NOT the actual shelter.
Interior closets, even those not armored, can be life-savers but not always enough. Especially with the larger, faster, more “powerful” tornadoes whose debris can travel at 200 mph or more.
Remember, it is typically the high-velocity debris that kills though falling concrete walls etc. can be deadly.
Hello, Mr. closet. We will return later and look inside you.
Headed down the short hall connecting my bedroom and the bed/work room where the shelter closet is located, I pivot and snap a shot.
To the right is the shanty’s reading room where I scrub my teeth, shower and sit upon the “throne” to read.
My current reading material is a paperback discussing the cultures/societies of Japan from ancient days up to current times.
A fine thrift store find for fifty-cents.
The already-shown closet is through the portal and to the left. To my immediate left is the hall wall hiding the other interior closet that has been converted to a shelter.
Since we are looking, that is my home-made bed. Notice the casters allowing mobility AND, as intended, to minimize floor contact so that the glue traps under the wheels will ensnare rampaging brown recluse spiders that are notoriously abundant in this area.
I catch a few now and then and make it as tough as possible for the night-roaming critters to access my tender OLD COOT BODY ™.
The shelves to the left exemplify my main furniture source; plastic assemble-yourself critters that weigh little. Portable, cheap, easily moved. Just like me. Wheeee!!!!!!!!!!!!
The wooden floors were added by the prior owner. He attempted to increase the shanty’s value but bad luck drove him to desperation, along with financial/economic realities and he was forced to sell at a loss. I would have preferred a non-fancy floor but so it goes.
There are two entrances to the “front” bedroom containing the shelter closet, one of a couple additions to the shanty since its 1933 build date.
It was an early addition since the framing is real oak 2×4’s… REAL two by four studs that measure a real 2 x 4 inches. And the oak is heavy. And dense. Screws and nails are held so very tightly. Adding to the security provided by the Coot Closet.
Note: Sometimes all the pics do not load at WordPress. You MAY need to smack your browser re-load button to encourage or coerce all the pics to appear.
To the right, out of sight, is the hall we just walked through. To the left, not shown, is the door leading to the living room.
And, in front of us, in all its glory, is the official Coot Cowering Closet ™.
“But, Coot, it’s only got half of a door!!!”
Yes, indeed. But that was part of my devious plan anticipating potential future calamities.
I was trapped once, albeit for a brief time, in a water-tight compartment aboard a Navy warship.
No real danger and the leak was soon repaired allowing us to open the escape route and attain freedom but the feeling of being trapped is most unwelcome.
Thus, no fallen debris such as trees, tossed vehicles, neighboring shantys, etc. will totally block my escape route post tornado impact. Well, making it unlikely.
I keep a large pry bar in the closet so, if needed, I can tear my way through the ceiling into the attic area and escape from there without undue effort.
Some of the 3/4-inch plywood armor is visible; upon the door’s exterior and on the closet’s back wall.
Another of several plastic shelves abounding throughout the shanty to the right.
Note the closet interior, to the left. One of two in-the-closet shelves with ample 3-inch screws holding the “new” not-quite 2×4’s to the closet interior.
The inner shelves provide some protection from impacts from above, fallen trees, etc. Not perfect protection but every bit helps and consider that all these add-ons help to tie the entire closet area together,
In a way, similar to a protection cage in a dragster or race car.
To the upper-right barely seen is the other interior shelf adding its bit to the shelter.
Inside the closet with a close-up of the “armor.”
The smaller slabs are well-attached with MANY wood screws to the base 3/4-inch plywood well-attached to the oak 2×4’s comprising the shanty’s frame.
The inner shelves also provide inner strength to assist in structural strength against the many forces an impacting tornado produces along with projectile impact resistance.
As stated… the “roll cage effect” a “regular” interior closet does not or can not provide.
Inside the closet staring at the “escape route.” The left side of the hinges are held to the door via high-quality bolts and washers and a few nuts.
The 4×4 hunk of wood is placed upon the floor in line with the latch to assist in securing that “weak point” of the door if a fast-moving and/or heavy object impacts the door. It is cut to fit from the back closet wall to the door.
It also assists (not part of the planning) in showing the size of the hinges in this picture.
The portion of the hinges attached to the closet wall are large lengthy lag screws that pierce several layers of 3/4-inch plywood and then into the oak 2×4’s.
It took a LOT of ratcheting to drive them in!!!
Along with the two interior shelves is a clothes hanger attached to the front and rear walls. It is built with 1/2-inch steel pipe and well-secured devices that hold the pipe in place and adds tremendous compression resistance to the part of the closet where my head will be located; encased within several floor/throw rugs with non-slip backing to assist in fending off flying glass.
Small particles CAN enter the closet via the “escape hole” but there is no direct route to impact the Delicate Coot Body ™.
Those various flying debris can cause injuries but the smaller lighter ones that can “poke an eye out” should be repelled by that last measure of protection.
There is also a couple nearby thick blankets easily and quickly grabbed to accompany me into the shelter.
And a pillow. Might as well be comfy and perhaps snooze as hell descends upon the shanty or… avoids it.
Not shown is the wind-up flash-light radio combination resting upon one of the shelves.
I will grasp it, holding it close.
A tornado will ensure power loss since underground electrical supplies are extremely rare in this section of the USA; quite dissimilar to what I was familiar with in California.
The half-door latch. The “weak point” the 4×4 is intended to overcome. It would take an immense amount of force to shove aside the well-fitting 4×4.
We are now back to the closed closet we passed going down the hall.
Above is one of my bedroom closets, also an interior closet and south and south-west of my official huddle-in-abject-terror closet.
Most tornadoes do travel to the north-east, arriving FROM the southwest. Tornadoes can and do travel in any direction and can even back-track.
That is what happened in Grand Island, Nebraska shortly after I drove through there during my trucking days, causing horrible destruction as the same storm moved through then went back to cause more mayhem then left, tossing objects and people to and fro as it merrily skipped on its way to other places.
Since the other interior closet IS there; heck, let’s toss some “armor plate” upon its walls!!!
That closet’s inner well-secured shelf assists in providing protection from above, especially large objects.
The armor is on all four walls. On the opposite side of the wall directly in front of us is the wall dividing this closet from the shelter closet. The door is not armored.
As with protection from radiation the more mass and the thicker the mass the more protection provided.
I used high-quality plywood. All 3/4-inch thick.
If you ever tried to hack your way through the stuff, even a sharp hatchet or other device meets much resistance,
Sure, a fast rotating saw blade cuts through the stuff but hurtled blunt object such as tornado-tossed lumber etc. should meet a decent amount of resistance.
Reinforced concrete would be better and class-A steel an inch or more thick would be best but I AM an impoverished Coot doing the best with the funds available.
Surprisingly to me, what I have done is extremely rare. Even here in Tornado Alley.
Heck, if I ever sell the shanty I will use the shelter as a selling point!!!
I saved the closet door and it can be easily re-installed.
A last look at the secondary closet that could be used as an overflow shelter IF guests are ever present.
Very doubtful since VERY FEW humans are allowed to even enter the shanty and its been over a year since kinfolk visited and they were gone within 30 minutes.
Told you I was/am disgruntled and avoid/evade as much as possible the horde/herd of society’s members!!!
However, out of curiosity, I MAY allow the recent likely foolish daffy female to enter to engage in conversation since her out-of-the norm logical rational not-addle-minded behavior is so immensely unlike that of the vast majority of females I encounter/confront.
Sigh……… with my luck her “odd” behavior is likely due to the psychotropic mind-altering drugs that a large proportion of USA females are prescribed by their therapists.
Maybe I will hold off on that visit!!!!!!!!!
Whatever. The reinforced ‘extra” closet does offer additional protection to the “main” shelter.
And that concludes our tour of the Official Coot-Condoned Closet ™ designed and built to maximize survivability and reduce the chances of injury should a tornado dance and prance and attempt to kick the shanty in its shins.