Vilonia To Open First Above-Ground Storm Shelter

Apr 12, 2016

A family in Vilonia stands beside destroyed homes as President Obama visited the storm-devastated area in May 2014.
Credit Tamara Keith / NPR News

The central Arkansas city of Vilonia is set to open its first above-ground storm shelter later this month, two years after a deadly tornado swept through the town.

KTHV-TV reports that the city was granted $28,000 to put toward the construction of a safe room in the aftermath of the 2014 tornado.

The shelter, called a Stormbox, can hold up to 40 people and is built to withstand an EF5 tornado's direct hit. Emergency Management Director Keith Hillman says the city decided that the Stormbox was the perfect fit.

It sits on a slab of concrete that's about 18 inches into the ground and is secured by about 12 bolts. Fifteen people died after an EF4 tornado struck Vilonia on April 27, 2014.