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Grandmother: I'm afraid to go in my storm shelter

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A 70-year-old grandmother living in a mobile home says the $5,000 storm shelter she had installed in 2012 is flooding and she is afraid to go inside.

The company that installed the shelter maintains they did nothing wrong.

Anne Roberson is deeply afraid of storms, and every time she hears tornadoes are in the forecast, she wants to run to the storm shelter behind her mobile home.

Instead, she won't go inside.

"I mean, you just fear. You just fear for your life," Roberson said.

Roberson's clam-shell design storm shelter leaks from the bottom, the center and the ceiling.

"It just got so full," Roberson said. "I just said, 'I don't feel safe in it.'"

Wayne Copeland, the owner of the company that installed the shelter, Morrison Tank and Vault, said they have been in business since 1989 and have gotten few complaints about leaking.

"Well, has the door been left open or something? It wasn't leaking when we was down there," Copeland said.

Roberson said the last time Copeland came to see her shelter, it was because the turbine on top wasn't working and a toxic smell made it difficult to remain inside.

Roberson said one of Copeland's crew repaired the turbine and removed some of the middle sealant to take away the smell.

But when some of the sealant was stripped away, Roberson said it started to flood.

"I noticed it was running down the side," Roberson said.

"So you say no one with your group took out that sealant?" asked chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.

"No," Copeland said.

The Channel 4 I-Team showed photographs of the leaking water to one of the country's leading experts on storm shelters.

He suspects the concrete wasn't treated properly to block out water - both above ground and beneath.

"The shelter could take in a fair amount of water, especially how it's improperly sealed," said Larry Tanner, a researcher at the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University. "The only way to fix it is to replace the shelter."

Because the shelter was installed in 2012, Copeland says he can't remember if they water-proofed the exterior of the shelter.

He says they do it if a customer asks for it.

Roberson didn't know and she even had to ask.

"She says her frustration is that she got this storm shelter because she gets really scared during storms and now she has a useless storm shelter. What do you think about that?" Finley asked.

"Well, I'll try to make it right. I'm offering to give it to her. When you're saying water's in it, I'd like to see it. I just can't believe it," Copeland said.

Roberson complained to the Better Business Bureau, and her case was headed for arbitration but she pulled out once she decided to hire a lawyer.

Copeland says his company sold 60 to 70 of these shelters last year alone and didn't have a complaint last year.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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