It is hard to believe that six years ago today, April 27, 2011, the largest tornado outbreak in recorded history swept across the United States. There were over 300 tornadoes reported that touched down across the nation. Sadly, the siege of tornadoes claimed 321 lives, injured 2,775 and were responsible for $10.8 billion in total damage, making it the costliest tornado outbreak in U.S. history. The Deep South – Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee took the hardest hit from the powerful storms.
In Catoosa County Georgia, an EF-4 tornado took the lives of eight people near the town of Ringgold and injured 30 people. “Ringgold was hit really hard, just a stones throw from us here in Rossville, Ga. We saw the destruction it left and realized a direct hit would kill our residents, who have no where to go in a storm,” said David Roden owner of Mountain View Estates, a mobile home community of several dozen residents.
As a result, Roden went right to work to find a shelter to keep residents safe when severe weather hits. Mountain View Estates built a tornado shelter exclusively for residents of Mountain View Estates. “After the deadly tornadoes that hit our area April 2011, we made it our mission to research and find the best community tornado shelter available. It has become, to the best of our knowledge, the only community tornado shelter for a manufactured housing community in Georgia. It is a great feeling to know we have a safe place to go in the event of severe weather. The residents feel safer too and a sense of relief with as many tornado warnings as our area now gets,” said Roden.
The structure of ¼-inch-thick cold-rolled steel that, together with its two-foot-thick reinforced concrete base, weighs more than 250,000 pounds. It is massive. A sixty ton crane was used to set the metal structure that resembles a metal greenhouse, it can give 150 people and their pets shelter from the storm. It is designed to keep those sealed inside safe, even against the 250-mph winds of a EF-5 tornado. The shelter sits on high ground so even residents in wheelchairs have easy access. The storm shelter was expensive for the owner, well into the six-figure amount, but to Roden, it was money well spent. Human lives have no price tag.
According to the National Weather Service, 44 percent of the 1,091 Americans killed by tornadoes from 1985 to 2005 died in mobile homes, compared to 25 percent in stick-built homes. That’s especially significant considering how few Americans, less that 8 percent or fewer, lived in mobile homes during that period.
David Roden has accomplished his mission of providing safety with the tornado shelter and the residents of Mountain View Estates in North Georgia will never have to worry again about where they will go in the event of a tornado.