BURNS HARBOR | If the unpredictably of weather continues and tornado warnings and sightings increase, Floyd Freeman may find himself making more trips to Northwest Indiana.
Freeman owns Smart Tech Homes in Cloverdale, Ind. A year ago he got into the tornado shelter business.
On Saturday, he visited his first customer in the region, Vicki Geressy, of Burns Harbor.
Geressy was having installed in her backyard the Granger ISS — an in-ground safety shelter designed to protect her family in the event of severe weather such as tornadoes.
“We’ve had some close calls,” said Geressy, citing severe winds and local tornado warnings and sightings in recent years. “The weather is getting crazier than it used to be.”
Geressy is raising her 4-year-old granddaughter, Avah, who is the primary reason for the new addition to the family property.
“My granddaughter is so frightened,” Geressy said. “When the wind starts up, she starts screaming and crying. She feels better now and knows she’s going to be safe now if a tornado comes. It gives her peace of mind, which gives me peace of mind.”
Freeman said the shelters, which can hold five to eight people, are good for homes without a basement or crawl space. Freeman, who says he's been in the construction business all his life, has sold about 15 of the shelters since becoming a dealer for manufacturer Granger Plastics.
“It’s a good family product,” he said.
The shelter Geressy purchased costs $5,500. It’s formed from one piece of polyethylene — billed as “a nearly indestructible material — that will never rust, corrode or float. It includes three steps to the seating area and a lightweight aluminum door assisted by a gas spring so “even a youngster can do it.”
Freeman said typical installation takes about two hours.
Geressy said she thought about building a cellar, but that would involve pouring cement and a lot more work.
“I just never knew they had a portable thing like this,” she said. “They’re popular in Kentucky and Ohio and southern Illinois and parts of southern Indiana.”