Tag Archives: Tornadoes

Tornadoes – PREPARE for the Winds of Death!

2 May

Whoo boy.

You all probably know that we just got hammered by Tornadoes.

Mississippi and Alabama are a mess.

And sadly, there were hundreds of  deaths and several hundred injuries. And we’re not thru counting, I’m sad to report.

I spend a lot of time talking to you about the “up-side” of our ISBU Steel Houses.

But many of you aren’t there yet.

This is just the beginning of Tornado Season, so as a reminder…

Here’s a few “Tornado Tips”:

Call your insurance agent and insure that you’re covered for tornado damage. DO THIS TODAY!

I’ve been to several tornado sites in the last few days and I can tell you firsthand that the damage is devastating. You cannot possibly imagine what a tornado can do, until one visits you. It’s like running a bulldozer across your entire county…

Sometimes it even cleans up after itself!

The secret to survival is acting early and correctly.

Where I live, there are still lots of Mobile Homes.

Listen carefully:

If your area is under a “tornado watch” or “hurricane warning”, and you live in a mobile home… for heaven’s sake…

Don’t be stupid. Get OUT! Gather up your family and go somewhere safe and secure. Do it BEFORE it becomes too late. You cannot outrun a tornado or hurricane with a car. I don’t care what you’ve seen on TV, in reality, it just doesn’t work.

Prepare for the event in ADVANCE.

Put together a “Go Bag.”

Get a knapsack and stuff it full of all the important things; medicines, food, extra clothing, important documents, water, you name it. Do this for EACH member of your family. You can FIND “Go Bag Content Lists” all over the place. Just GOOGLE it.

One of those bags should contain an emergency radio.

You’ve seen them before. The best ones use a crank to charge a battery so they always work.

When preparing for ANY kind of crisis, be it a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake or a big fire…

Practice your “Disaster/Evacuation plan!”

Know what you’re supposed to do, know where you’re supposed to go… and then JUST DO IT!

And, do it often enough so that you know what to do without thinking about it. Remember – “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!”

(“Sloppy practice” just creates bad habits and peril.)

Turn off the gas!

When your home gets ripped up by a tornado or hurricane, your gas lines get torn out too.

Somewhere along that damage strewn path, there’s gonna be gas leaking. You’ll need an adjustable wrench to accomplish this. Get to your main as early as you possibly can and turn the gas off.

Turn your water off!

For the same reasons, when a tornado heads your way, it’s a good idea to turn off your home’s water main.

It’s hard enough to survive a hit without being soaking wet. Trust me on this one.

If you’re hearing Sirens, you’re too late.

Act as swiftly as you can, as early as you can. That way, you’ll be safe and calm(er) when the tornado or hurricane arrives.

When tornadoes loom, go low.

Find the lowest section of your house and go there. Here in Coastal Mississippi, we don’t have basements. If you’re fortunate enough to have one, go there.

If not…find the lowest part of your house and then hunker down in a doorway or hallway. Getting into a bathtub is a good idea, unless it’s on an exterior wall.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen bathtubs sucked out of houses. If you’re in it, you’re going for a ride.

Once you’ve hunkered down, stay put, stay down and cover your heads.

In fact, find a thick blanket or even a mattress and throw that over you, too. Make sure that your head is covered! You can live with a broken arm. Living with a broken head is another matter entirely.

Avoid windows and glass doors.

Taping them with a big “X” made out of duct tape isn’t going to help.

In fact, it’s just going to make larger pieces of jagged glass flying around like a buzzsaw.

I saw a tree that had glass embedded into it, all connected by duct tape. It was like a “flying sawblade of death”. Save the duct tape for NASCAR, huh?

In a hurricane or a tornado, glass is the first thing to go. In fact, everything glass in your house should be secured, if you have time. (This includes stuff like big flower vases and even fish tanks if you can safely move them.) Otherwise, all that glass is going to become jagged shrapnel flying through your home trying to kill you.

If you’re in your car, pull over and get out.

CAR + TORNADO = RIDE. Capish? 😉

Find a culvert or low-lying area and go there. Flooring it and trying to get away isn’t going to work.

There. That should get you started.

Stay safe.

This informative post has been brought to you by the letter “T”, and the color Gray.

(Because we lived long enough to turn gray! You should be so lucky!) 😉

Image Credits: AP

A Corten Commune? Whaaa?? ;)

27 Apr

Some quick thoughts as we take a breath…

We’re busy organizing and gathering aid for some families in Mississippi that just got pounded by Mother Nature. She must really be mad at Mississippi… First, multiple Hurricanes, and now Tornadoes that ravaged entire communities.

Yep, I guess that tornadoes aren’t just for Kansas and girls named Dorothy… Recently, Mississippi (and Louisiana and Alabama as well) got pounded by the devils.

And once again, people are homeless and in need of fast emergency housing, while they try to figure out what happens next…

As more and more of those people start thinking “about the road ahead”…

I’m being asked more and more about how you can build something “reasonable” for a small family, without killing yourself financially in the process. Nobody wants those FEMA “death-trailers…”

And I don’t blame them.

You’ve probably already seen my ideas for using larger containers to build “dorm-style mini-homes” for site workers in Haiti.


Can you build a small “cluster” community out of 20′ ISBUs?


The best way to cut expenses is to spread the costs out between the families. Right? So…

First, build a separate series of bath/shower containers, and pair them up with small “residential” units built from 20′ High Cube shipping containers.

It would be easy to build several toilet facilities, enclosed shower units, and even stacked laundry units into a single 20′ box, that could just be dropped into place to provide immediate relief from the wrath of Ole’ Mom Nature…  You could even put solar panels on the roof to heat the water… Easy. And… since we’re talking about panels, add a panel or two to power light systems.

(Yes, I realize that adding laundry units means generating more power, like by using a small portable generator…)

Now, since you wouldn’t have a bath and shower in each family unit…

You’d have plenty of space for a small kitchenette, a fold down bunk system and some comfortable living area, that is sheltered from any further storm activity.

Build (1) bath unit for (4) Family units, and you’d have an instant “settlement” that could be dropped off the back of flatbed truck beds, onto precast concrete blocks.

Okay, so maybe it’s fast, but say people don’t wanna share baths…

And, hey… nobody likes to hike for a  CBF – “communal bathroom facility” at all hours of the night, so why now just nestle one between two 20′ residential units, to form a big “U” by running One 20′ High Cube across the back, between the two opposed (sleeping) ISBUs.

Now you have big apartment sized baths back to back, and water easily reached on both side, for kitchens, and even a huge greenhouse that would fill that big hole you just created.

Now, drop another 20′ High Cube ISBU on top of your pair of opposed units, and you have a second floor, to use as a big bedroom loft.

Voila, now it’s not “emergency housing… It’s “instant apartments.”  11′ kitchens, normal sized baths, a neat LR/DR area, and a cool loft bedroom overlooking a lush greenhouse filled with produce and life-giving plants, year round!

Now, go a step further.

What say we place that whole shooting match on an insulated slab, and then earth berm around the outsides of it? What do you get for all that effort? You get a pair of semi-underground homes, without much digging. Now, think about the possibilities. Like for instance, radiant in floor heating.

All you need is a bunch of cinderblocks, some rebar, and some concrete. And PEX tubing… Lots of PEX.

(PEX tubing is what you use to run your hot water thru, to heat your slab.)

Now you have great South Exposure, protection from the cold North, and you’ve done it all yourself, over a series of weekends.

Okay, now take that same idea, and build a single family home.

U shaped ISBU structure, 2 levels high.

20′ x 28′ foot two story room in the center, complete with Island Kitchen and Washer/Dryer area.

Now you have 4 bdrms, 4 bathrooms (including (1) common bath on the first floor, an office, a banquette seating area, (2) small decks, and enough great room for a decent woodstove.

Put a standing seam metal roof over it, in that hipped shape that I’m so fond of…

Instant home.
Just add water.
And power.
And AC.
And Insulation… don’t forget the SPF!

All for the low, low price of… um… er… how much ya got? 😉

Gimme a day or two to get things here under control, and I’ll draw something out, to demonstrate exactly what I’m talking about. I can see it in my head, but you really don’t wanna go there… 😉

Stay tuned.