AUTAUGA CO., AL (WSFA) - Call it 'riding out the storm', literally. "It's the whole bus underground," Autauga County resident James Hunter explained. He and his wife buried an old school bus to make a creative storm shelter.
"I'm ready for the tornado, you know," Hunter beamed.
James and Claudette Hunter purchased the old bus five years ago after a tornado ripped through the trailer park [J.C. Trailer Park] they own on County Road 40 West.
"It didn't do much damage, but it picked up a trailer and threw it across the highway," Mrs. Hunter revealed.
The landlords were concerned about their tenants' safety during severe weather. Now, the underground bus serves as a refuge. It was in use during the April tornadoes and the storms that passed two months ago.
"They [the tenants] were safe. A lot of them say it was roomy, and they had a nice time down there," Mary Scott, a tenant in the mobile home park said.
The Hunters say the idea to use a bus came about as a matter of frugality.
"We started looking for retainers, and they were so expensive. So then we thought of a school bus," Mrs. Hunter said.
They found an old Autauga County school bus, built in 1985, in a junkyard. After purchasing it for only $800, the couple hired a man for $700 to dig a hole to bury it.
The bus has 20 seats, and it can fit about 75 people, including those standing along the aisle.
The hole is just deep enough to cover the bus. Two air-vents are the only things that stick out of the ground. When finished, the 27 feet long bus was rolled into the nine feet deep hole and covered with dirt.
"Then, when we got all the dirt out and the bus down to the level of the ground, then we was able to back the bus into the runway and then pull it down in there," Mr. Hunter said.
Thinking about trying this out for yourself?
Autauga County Superintendent Greg Faulkner says old or irreparable buses are auctioned off on www.govdeals.com.