- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

WASHINGTON, Ill. (AP) - A year after a tornado devastated the central Illinois community of Washington, city officials say one in 20 home rebuilding projects include a reinforced safe room.

The rooms are designed for enhanced security in case of a disaster, Washington director of planning and developing Jon Oliphant tells the (Peoria) Journal Star (https://bit.ly/12eO1V1 ). Three people died due to the November 2013 tornado, which damaged more than 1,100 homes in Pekin, East Peoria and Washington.

“It’s not necessarily a significant number, but there are definitely more safe rooms than we saw prior to the tornado,” Oliphant said. “People have been trying to have their homes be a little bit safer than what they were before.”

The tornado wiped Andrea and Ryan Bowers’ home off its foundation. They weathered the storm with their then 10-week-old daughter and two dogs in their basement where they were partially buried under debris.

The Bowers have decided to add a safe room to the basement of their new home.

“For me, personally, the safe room is vital to my healing,” Andrea Bowers said. “To lose almost everything you had, and so quickly, is to completely lose your sense of security in the very place you once felt the most secure. Hopefully we don’t ever need (the safe room), but there is peace of mind just knowing it is there.”

Andrea Bowers said the room’s extra cost extends beyond her family’s ownership of the new house.

“Maybe we’ll never need it, and probably this won’t be the last house we own,” Andrea Bowers said. “But if we sell it to someone else down the line, we’ll know we’re passing down a house that’s as safe as it can be and maybe that will be a comfort to the family that buys it.”


Information from: Journal Star, https://pjstar.com

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