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KIA motors installs storm shelters

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KIA Motors is taking extreme measures to make sure workers are safe if a tornado ever barrels towards its manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. FOX5 recently got a tour of ten new underground shelters where hundreds of people could ride out a potentially dangerous situation.

It was in April 2011 that more than 350 violent tornadoes raked across several states.

At the time, Kia Motors had been in operation for only a couple of years in West point, Georgia. Their manufacturing plant sits about six miles away from the Alabama state line - and less than 20 miles from where three of the violent twisters hit.

Randy Jackson, KIA's Vice President of Human Resources says that because of that experience, he knows that tornadoes can hit this area. And as part of the auto industry, he says the company already places a premium on safety but he knew this was an opportunity to take their safety measures to the next level.

Jackson says they're always loking to make things better. And to do that, they took a look at their own backyard and installed ten underground storm shelters on-site with plans to add four more.

The shelters are each 500 square foot steel tubs. Jackson says they can withstand an F5 tornado or up to 250 MPH winds.

The shelters are designed not only to protect against Mother Nature's most violent storms, but also to keep people as comfortable as possible while taking shelter. They seat 100 people comfortably with room for up to 150, if necessary.

The ample space is equipped with lighting powered by a backup generator, a dehumidifier, ventilation, stocked with bottled water, and it even includes a bathroom.

"We have to make sure our team members are safe and that they feel comfortable," Jackson says.

It was an important investment for KIA. At a cost of about $100,000 per shelter, they've strategically placed them on the property for maximum safety. Steve Garner, is the Facilities Manager who helped set them up.

"I flew with the Hurricane Hunters in the military. So I've been through storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. And I know what they can do. So this is significant for our team members," Garner says. 

"They really take care of us. This is a great thing," Garner says.

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