LAKE MARTIN, AL (WSFA) - Merry Hardy started her Lake Martin storm shelter operation one year before the April 27th tornadoes five years ago.
Hardy says she got the idea after she and her daughter took shelter in their mobile home during a tornado warning but knew the mobile home wouldn't be strong enough to protect them. The tornado passed over them but made Hardy think twice about the 'next time.'
Within weeks of that storm, Hardy started Lake Martin Storm Shelters.
In her first year, Hardy installed around six shelters. Since the April 27th storms of 2011, Hardy estimated she's installed well over a thousand shelters throughout the state.
"One example is a couple of months ago in Opelika, we put it in that day and they used it that night," Hardy says. "A tornado went right over their house and we had just put it in six hours earlier,"
According to Hardy, the three types of shelters can withstand a F-5 tornado. The shelters cost anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000.
Hardy says the storm shelters today are far stronger than what 'grandpa' built decades ago. The shelters weigh around a thousand pounds and are anchored down in concrete, with most of the safe place underground.