Friday, September 6, 2013

Tornado Shelter - 2

Once the slab was out of the way, rough digging was done by
the excavator, and final trimming and squareing by shovel.
I called the contractor’s office back and said, “Just ask them for the names of the nearest intersecting streets, and I’ll give you directions.”

“Well, there’s no one in the truck that speaks English, so I doubt they’d be able to understand.”
“If they can understand any English, I can give them foolproof directions that will involve only two turns from almost anywhere.”
“Okay, if they call back, I’ll see what I can do. In the meanwhile, can you watch for them and wave them down if you see them go by?”
“Sure, I can do that.” So I got a chair off the patio, a magazine, and set up station under a tree in the side yard. It was then noon.

The steel shelter was then slid into place with only inches
to spare.
During our next conversation I finally said to the manager, “Look, I’m really getting uncomfortable here. Please tell me these guys do a better job at installing these things than they do getting to the job site.” He assured me they were experienced, and that I’d be happy with the job.

The shelter was shifted and moved to the proper fit.
The manager and I made several more calls back and forth until the crew finally pulled up around one o’clock, or three hours late. The center left tire on the triple-axle trailer was blown, and had been for many, many miles. There wasn’t much of the tire left. They had a spare tire, but no tools, and no jack. Not being able to communicate their problem, it seems they were broken down rather than lost. While they got to work on the shelter, I got my 20-ton jack and tire iron and changed their tire for them. I tried to explain that I wanted them to unload the excavator to get most of the weight off the trailer, but that point was lost in the language barrier. With the steel trailer loaded with the steel tornado shelter, a Kubota excavator, cement, jack hammer and other equipment, a hydraulic jack much smaller wouldn’t have done the job.

Dirt was back-filled around the steel chamber to within about
six inches of the top.  Concrete was poured in and shaped to
a collar that rose just above the floor to keep water from running in
and flooding the shelter.
It would have been nice if at least one of the two-man crew spoke some English, or the office manager spoke some Spanish, but between improvised sign language and a few basic words, we made it through the day. There were indeed a few things I would have liked to discuss with them, and questions it would have been nice to have answers to, especially when people have come in to cut and dig up the concrete floor of my garage. So far, the finished product looks good.

The finished job.  The handrail normally just lies on the shelter.
It is set in place to aid climbing inside.  The oval opening in the
lid allows access to the locking mechanism.  Both it and the grate
at the opposite end allow ventilation.
I was exhausted by day‘s end. Since they had a lot of work to do, and were late getting started, I tried to jump in wherever I could to lend another back and pair of hands, even though I was a half-century their senior. After a shower and bite to eat, I crashed. The 3 to 4 hour drive back to Birch Lake would have to wait until the next morning.

A peek inside shows the steps and the lengthwise carpeted
seats.  The steps may be removed once inside to allow greater
room inside.  There is room under the steps for storage of water,
battery-powered light, MRE's, and bucket toilet.  You hope to be
out as soon as the storm passes, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared
for something like three days in the event that storm wreckage keeps
you from climbing out on your own, and rescue crews may be
awhile getting to you.

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