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Delhi Man Banks On Safe Room To Ride Out Tornado

Ann Thompson
Richard Schmalz sits inside his safe room that can hold about 7 people.

Just in time for tornado season Ohio is offering rebates to build a safe room.

A couple of years ago retired Cincinnati Police Captain Richard Schmalz built one. "Several people thought I was nuts building the safe room but at the time Ohio was paying 87.5 percent of it and I just thought to myself it's just a cheep insurance policy."

Schmalz, a Delhi resident, has had a couple of close calls and now his neighbors are asking if they can get in the 6' x 4' x 6' steel room that sits above ground directly behind his house and bolted to 22" of concrete.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
This safe room is 6 1/2 x 4 x 6'. Schmalz has lights, food, water and medical supplies inside.

The current rebate is 75 percent. The Ohio Department of Emergency Management says homeowners that are selected and qualify will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $4,875.

Schmalz's project cost $8,000. He showed me a stack of paperwork with all the requirements and there are plenty.

The retired Cincinnati Police Captain had to get multiple inspections and do business with an approved vendor.

Schmalz says his safe room can withstand an F5 tornado.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.