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Storm Shelter Spike: 'I couldn't put a price on a life'

CENTERTON , AR -- People around Arkansas have been taking in the scenes of devastation in Vilonia and Mayflower and are now choosing to better protect themselves from possible storms.
CENTERTON, AR -- People around Arkansas have been taking in the scenes of devastation in Vilonia and Mayflower and are now choosing to better protect themselves from possible storms.

45 Centerton homeowners decided to add storm shelters in just the last few weeks. Rhonda Lindsay moved to Northwest Arkansas from Colorado about 9 months ago.

"We decided to go with a safe room... Kind of put it off thinking, you know, it's never going to happen and we'll get a shed instead. Then Vilonia happened and I was on the phone with Family Safe that week and it's on order."

Before installing a shelter, Mayor Bill Edwards requests folks head to Centerton City Hall for a free permit and to put their name on a list.

"If an event were to happen, we want to make sure we make a list of these folks that have these shelters and go check on them... We want to make sure everybody's accounted for."

The city started keeping track after several folks, like Rhonda, decided to take action after seeing tornadoes touch down in Central Arkansas.

"I told my husband when that happened I was ready to go back home to Colorado and I said if we're going to stay here, we're going to put one in. We may never need it, but I want to feel like we have a plan."

Knowing emergency crews will be able to find her family is priceless peace of mind.

"If there's debris or whatever that we can't get out, somebody will have a list, they'll know where we're at and they will check on us... I couldn't put a price on a life."

The cities of Centerton and Bentonville have hard-copy lists of which homes have storm shelters and they share that information with fire and police crews. Fayetteville has an electronic record of recent storm shelters added. Springdale and Rogers do not, but both Washington County and Benton County Emergency Management Departments keep track of where each shelter is located.

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