My name is Keith Gwin and I am the owner of Central Alabama Storm Shelters in Concord, Alabama. I began this company after witnessing the destruction of my community and the losses of those around me.
Immediately following the April 27th tornado, I began looking for a shelter that I could place inside my basement. Finding an in-ground shelter was no problem, but finding an above-ground shelter that I felt comfortable with was a challenge. Living less than 1/4 of a mile from the tornado path, I realized how vulnerable my family and I were by sheltering in a basement. A basement does provide a certain level of protection, but not what I feel comfortable with after seeing several homes with the basements filled from the collapse of floors above. A large tornado tends to remove the upper portions of a house exposing those in a basement to multiple dangers (click here to see home in Pleasant Grove for reference). Also, garage doors are no match for the extreme wind and debris that they will be exposed to. Being a civil engineer as well as a professional engineer, I understand the properties of reinforced concrete and its ability to withstand impacts from flying objects without yielding.
After searching all ends of the internet, I found a pre-cast concrete company that makes, what I feel, is the most substantial above-ground shelter on the market.
These shelters are designed by a professional engineer and the plans were submitted to a third party engineer to verify that the design meets the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) Standard. Meeting this standard is a voluntary step that certain companies make to set themselves apart from other shelter manufacturers.
After a short time of getting to know each other, the manufacturer and I began a joint venture to make these shelters available in Alabama, which was normally considered out of his market. We both agreed that by making these reinforced concrete shelters available, we are providing Alabama residents a robust product protecting their families from future storms.
A display featuring two of our most popular models is located on Highway 160 near the new Hayden High School in Blount County Alabama. I also have shelters at a site near Bessemer Alabama where you can come and see them.