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'That was the deciding factor': Family gets storm shelter after December tornadoes

The storm shelters go underground and the safe rooms are bolted into the ground.

VINE GROVE, Ky. — Busy business is good business normally, but Paul Gabehart is so overwhelmed he wishes it was just “steady.”

Gabehart owns and operates Kentucky Storm Shelters. He sells and installs prefab storm shelters as well as safe rooms.

Since the deadly December tornadoes, which tore through a large part of Kentucky, Gabehart says people have been calling non-stop to buy one.

The storm shelters go underground while the safe rooms get bolted into the ground.

“This year we’ve already put in over 30 units this year and on track to do well over 120 units,” Gabehart said.

The most units he ever put in was about 70 units.

Gabehart is struggling to keep up with the demand, and that demand is outpacing the supply.

“Not only do we have the limitations on how many we can put in, we also have the limitations on how many shelters that we can receive from the factory,” said Gabehart.

RELATED: 10 years later | Survivors remember the deadly Indiana tornado outbreak of 2012

While prices range between approximately $5000 to $12,000, depending on size, he’s telling new customers that it could take several months before he can do their job.

Larry Mitchell of Vine Grove is the latest to get a six-person storm shelter from Gabehart.

It’s now buried in his front yard.

“It’s a lifesaving investment, a tornado is just like being hit with a rocket or a bomb,” Mitchell said.

He should know. Mitchell was in the army and served in Vietnam.

RELATED: Debunking common myths about tornadoes to prepare you for severe weather season

He said the devastation in Mayfield convinced him and his wife to get a storm shelter.

“That was the deciding factor,” he said.

Mitchell’s home doesn’t have a basement, and Gabehart said that just having a basement may give people a false sense of security.

“When there’s a major tornado go through, you’ll see a basement that is piled full in the neighbor’s home and then the next one will be sucked dry like there was nothing in it,” Gabehart said. “You need a secure place.”

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