Some climate specialists believe ‘tornado alley’ is shifting east…bring rougher weather to Kentucky. In response, Lexington Emergency Management Director Pat Dugger says new homes should include tornado safe rooms. "The cost of adding a tornado room into new construction is fairly minimal compared to retrofitting. If you spread that over the cost of the houses in a subdivision, it’s really not gonna cause the price of the house to go up maybe more than 500 dollars,” said Dugger.
‘Tornado Safe Rooms’ are often constructed with a reinforced wood frame, concrete block walls, and a thick steel door. Dugger adds some federal dollars are available for tornado room retrofits in existing, privately owned homes. Dugger says requiring such rooms in all new houses would be a step in the right direction.
"It would take a building code change or a local ordinance adoption of that being a requirement. That and my other dream is to have hard wired into every home or facility a NOAA weather radio so that you have it,” added Dugger.
Lexington council member Bill Farmer says money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency could help some homeowners install ‘tornado safe rooms’ .
“Now FEMA will let people do that individually and I think that’s where we can bring some resources or focus to bear in terms of can we make the zoning ordinance good for that or can we make the opportunity more available to people whether they are building or retrofitting”, said Farmer.
Bill Farmer says there are large neighborhoods in Lexington that currently have no access to any real tornado protection.