New homes built in KCK must have tornado safe rooms - KCTV5 News

New homes built in KCK must have tornado safe rooms

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New homes built in KCK must have safe rooms to protect residents from a tornado.

After a deadly tornado in 2003, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County required newly constructed homes to have a basement with concrete walls or a safe room built to federal government standards.

The design standards from the Federal Emergency Management Agency change periodically and KCK's requirements change to keep up with those refinements.

KCTV5 incorrectly reported on Tuesday that FEMA requires the safe rooms and regrets that error. KCK requires that the safe rooms be built to FEMA design standards.

Some developers say the FEMA design standards include a 14-guage steel door.

Some builders say the requirement means higher costs for builders and higher home prices.

Rick Gaster's new home has one of the safe rooms. The steel door has four locks and walls 10 inches thick.

"I don't think hardly anybody is aware because it's so new," he said about the door. 

Developer Earl Freeman of Freeman Farms said most buyers want to have a tornado safe room to go into.

But he said it costs $2,000 to build a room that meets FEMA standards, and he said that is not necessarily safer than the rooms he's built elsewhere.

"We're trying to keep cost of the home down for people," he said. "The government is causing it to go up."

Gaster said the steel door does make him nervous, and the requirement could discourage some.

"I think there are a lot of cons. I don't like the cost," he said. "And I think it's going to keep a lot of people maybe from building."

Unified Government officials say that with KCK seeing deadly tornadoes in the past decade that the ordinance helps keep residents safe during storms.

Existing homes do not have to add a tornado safe room. If you decide to add one, it could cost $10,000 or less to build an FEMA-approved room.

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