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      Hannibal couple protects their community from tornados

      It's that time of year again when a tornado can strike at a moment's notice.

      It's important we all know where our nearest storm shelters are and the fastest way to reach them before a tornado hits.

      For people who live too far away to reach a safe shelter, it might be the right time to purchase one of your own.

      Murl and Rita Smith's goal is to make sure their community is safe when a tornado hits.

      "It's important to help our community, and this is a project to provide them something and a place to go where they can be safe," Rita Smith said.

      Both Rita and Murl work at Hannibal Concrete Products and sell a wide range of concrete items. But when Spring arrives, Murl Smith constructs and sells customized storm shelters known as Safe and Sound Shelters.

      "It is one of the easiest ones to access again," Murl Smith said. "It's very similar to a root cellar on the old farms."

      It's an impenetrable concrete mini storm shelter that can withstand any natural disaster.

      "If a house lands on top of it, even if the door comes off, you're still not going to get through," Murl Smith said.

      It all started six years ago, when some of Murl's customers asked him some strange questions.

      "We were receiving a number of calls that people were trying to modify a septic tank into a storm shelter and that's not safe," Murl Smith said.

      After that, Murl decided Hannibal Concrete Products needed to make and sell its own shelters.

      "We felt that if we were going to supply something to homeowners, we needed to do the right product," Murl Smith said.

      The shelter's concrete wall's are five inches thick and once you're inside and seal the latch, nothing can reach you.

      This Safe and Sound shelter weighs approximately 17,000 pounds. It can house more than 12 full size adults and it also has a wind turbine that provides fresh air.

      When tornado season arrives, Murl receives a lot of orders for shelters.

      "Anytime there are tornados warnings, we definitely see the telephone ringing off the wall," Murl Smith said. But it's not the money that's important to the Smiths.

      It's all about making sure their clients are safe when a tornado strikes.

      It's not just another product for us," Rita Smith said. "It's something that we're doing for the community."

      If you want to win a free storm shelter that can save your life, then here's your chance. Hannibal Concrete Products will giveaway a free Safe and Sound Storm Shelter at KHQA's free Storm Spotters event hosted by John Wood Community College at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 31.

      Click here for all the details and KHQA hopes to see you there!