OT storm shelters

sorie6(6b ok.)July 4, 2013

Anyone here have one? We're going to put one in but I'm confused as to what kind.
I've not heard or seen any stories of folks surviving in one. I thought after the tornado in Moore you'd have heard some stories. We were in Colo. at the time so guess that's why we didn't.
I'm leaning for the underground but still need to hear someone who's been there.TIA

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There were a lot of stories on the news about the storm shelters and the people who took shelter in them in the Moore tornado. They showed pictures of them after the tornado and a few had some dings and a lot of scratches, but every single person who took shelter in one survived!!!

I have one that was put in when the house was being built amd ive gone into it many times. I would choose it over an in ground shelter any day.

I dont know a lot about them, but there are certain requirements when installing one in an existing home.

One of our long time weather men in Tulsa named Jim Giles, who is now passed on, started a storm shelter program and they actually give some of them away every year. Perhaps that would be a good start, google Jim Giles saferooms.

Good luck


    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 12:01AM
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I just bought one, will be installed Aug 21 . I bought a concrete in-ground shelter and will locate it as far from the house as possible.

I looked at the in-ground shelters installed in the garage floor. And I can not stand the thought of being trapped in one of those, even for 30 minutes. There's only room to sit down and if they house fell on the door , the claustrophobic side of me would take over.

My concrete shelter is also the cheapest I could find. I paid 2750 and got if from Red Dirt Septic, located north of Edmond on Waterloo Rd. I talked with two other companies, both were new to the business, and they were mass chaos compared to how professional Red Dirt was . I had even made the purchase with one company and cancelled cause they were so disorganized and sloppy. Red Dirt sent a rep to my house, he looked everything over to make sure they had access and we could fit their equipment in my yard. And offered advise for locating the shelter. He was extremely thorough and left nothing to chance. They covered every detail and left me feeling great bout my transaction cause I know the installation will be done the same.

The unit I bought is made by Hauser in Drumright, OK. Almost all the concrete shelters are made by Hauser and you can find prices from what I paid up to $5,000, all for the same shelter.

I've lived in Oklahoma 61 years without what my grandmother called a " fraidy hole " . But the time has come. My plan had always been to leave the house and go to stronger shelter, like a shopping mall. But after the mass panic in the streets on May 31, that is no longer an option. And my Daughters and their families will feel better about having a place to go.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 11:35AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

We moved here to Oklahoma a few weeks before the 1999 OKC-Moore tornado hit, and we didn't have a tornado shelter that first year. After seeing the damage done and the loss of life from that tornado, we bought an in-ground tornado shelter in early 2000.

In an average year, we might go to the shelter 3 to 5 times because a Tornado Warning has been issued and either a tornado or a supercell thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado is headed our way. Actually, I go to the tornado shelter and generally am in there alone. My husband, who is the chief of our local VFD, runs up to the fire station to set off the siren to alert our community. Our adult son, also a volunteer firefighter in addition to being a professional firefighter, normally is out on the road serving as a storm spotter. I'd rather they both stayed home and were in the shelter with me, but that's a battle I lose every time.

Having a tornado shelter gives you great peace of mind. Ours sits about 20' from our back door, and that's too far considering that you normally are running to the shelter in blinding rain and strong wind, and sometimes with hail. Because we often have days where storms occur for hours, you might already be in the midst of severe weather long before the NWS issues a Tornado Warning.

If we had it all to do over again, I think we would have put in an above-ground Safe Room that was attached to the house. Running through the storm to get to the shelter and then descending the steep metal ladder while dripping wet is not necessarily pleasant (though it is more pleasant than staying inside and risking being in the house when a tornado hits). We are in our mid-50s now and the steep ladder is not a big concern, but I wonder how we'll feel about descending that ladder when we're in our 80s.

Our shelter is Hauser's slope-front model. When we bought ours, it cost us $1500 plus installation. (Concrete and steel both are a lot more expensive now than they were then.) I don't remember what installation cost us, but it was very reasonable. A local gentleman who does backhoe type work picked up the shelter, brought it here, dug the hole, installed it, etc. It took him no time at all. We were very pleased at the time and still are just as happy as can be with the shelter.

I grew up in Texas just about 80 miles south of where we now live in southern OK, and we did have tornadoes there, but not often. I have seen far more funnel clouds in the air here in the 15 years we've been here than I saw in 39 years in Texas. We have been lucky. While we have seen funnel clouds flying right by us in the air several times, we've never had one touch down. I feel incredibly fortunate that we haven't been hit, but having the shelter to go to gives us incredible peace of mind. It is worth its weight in gold.

A few weeks ago, while I was working in the yard, mammatus clouds formed right overhead. Then a big supercell starting popping up to our west/northwest. I went inside just in time to hear a Tornado Warning being issued for our county, and I promptly went to the tornado shelter. Before I went inside the shelter, I snapped photos of the mammatus clouds and supercell and sent them to my husband and son, both of who were at work in Dallas, along with the message "I'm in the shelter". Within a couple of minutes, my son texted me back the names of local roadways slightly south of us where Storm Chasers were set up trying to intercept the expected tornado. The nearest Storm Chasers were just a couple of miles from our house as the crow flies. Then my son texted me photos of the funnel cloud that the Storm Chasers were live streaming. That was frightening. I said "I cannot see it here" and he told me that I was on the southeast side of the supercell producing the funnel cloud and that the funnel cloud was west of the supercell moving northwest, so that the supercell actually was blocking my view of the funnel cloud. (Good! I sure didn't want to see it!) Even though the funnel cloud was moving away from me, I was a little anxious about it....and I was in the shelter. Can you imagine what that would have felt like if I was in the house and had no place to go for shelter from the storm? My husband was watching the radar in his office and sending me text messages telling me where the storm was and how it was moving. We were lucky on that day. The funnel cloud scared a lot of folks, especially in the western part of our county, but it didn't touch down and do damage or harm people. Some day it is likely our luck will run out and a tornado will touch down on the ground instead of flying by overhead. When that day comes, I hope I am in the shelter, and that's precisely why we have one.

I'm going to link the one we have. As a bonus, particularly in fall through spring, I use the tornado shelter as a root cellar and store lots of veggies like potatoes and winter squash in it for months at a time. (It gets a teeny bit too hot for great root-cellar storage in June-August).)

When we first moved here, there were a few houses with old tornado shelters that looked like they had been in the ground a few decades. Since the 1999 tornado season, I'd say that there's roughly four times as many shelters in our area as there was back then, and more and more are installed all the time. That's just the ones we can see in yards. We know plenty of people, too, who have had Safe Rooms constructed in new homes, or installed in garages. I don't necessarily think there are more tornadoes now than there were back then, but we all certainly are more aware of them and more concerned about the prospect of being hit by one.

When we had the shelter installed, I wondered if we would "ever" use it. I actually am surprised by how many Tornado Warnings we have had since then, and by how many funnel clouds have been visible from our yard, though they rarely touch down on the ground in our county.

People who have lived here a very long time have described a couple of tornadoes that did touch down on their property decades ago, though we've only had a couple of very minor ones in recent years. That makes me think we may be overdue for a big one...and that is one more reason to have a shelter.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hauser's Slope-Front Tornado Shelter

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 2:12PM
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I too have a Hauser's slope-front shelter. No, it's not fun running to it in the rain....but we laid a flagstone path to ours from the back door. It's about 30 ft. We also have a redbud that provides some cover on the way. I'm not to worried about debris covering it but we do have a small shovel and a handsaw down there just in case.

I lived southside OKC in May 1999 and was 2 miles from destruction. My daughter's highschool took a direct hit. (Westmoore) I now live a little over 3 miles from the tornado that took out the marina on north Thunderbird Lake a few years ago. I watched the funnel from my front porch which was way too close. At the first of year, I received a small inheritance and THAT was the first thing we got. Just in the nick of time because the first touchdown of the May 19 Bethel Acres funnel was a mile and a half from us. And we were in it for the first time. We now store all our camping gear down in there because in the event of devastation, we'll need it. We were in it again on May 31st when a funnel hit just 2 miles north of us.

I don't know that we have more tornados than we did when I was growing up here in central Oklahoma, but I think technology has advanced so much that now we know way ahead of time where it's headed and they can also warn us of it's intensity. Also check with the local municipality in which you live. You can register your cellar and the location so in the event of a disaster, Emergency workers know where to look for you. I registered ours with the City of Norman.

For anyone in the central OKC and surrounding areas, I highly recommend stormsheltersplus. We only paid $2550 for ours installed. We live rural so there wasn't an issue getting the equipment in...but they did make sure to mound the dirt up around ours which we're keeping that way with flagstone. It will help insulate it so I can use it for onion, sweet potatoe, etc storage in the fall months.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 11:13PM
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sorie6(6b ok.)

Thanks to all of you for the info. Sorry it took me so long to get back. Didn't realize more folks posted on it.
We did have a shelter put in it's in the garage. It is defiantly
peace of mind. Hope we never have to use it!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:58PM
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Sorie6, Oh, you will use it.

Is it under the garage floor or bolted to the garage floor? There are several different types these days, and Chandra who was a GardenWeb poster while he lived in Oklahoma, had one put under his garage floor.

Mine is above ground and you just walk into it from the house. I have a friend that has an interior bedroom that is a shelter, and friend in Ardmore that had a closet size shelter inside her house. It had room for a filing cabinet of important papers and standing room only for 6 or 7 people.

You can have your shelter registered with the Emergency Management Director in your county and if your area is hit, they will know to look for your shelter. When my neighborhood got hit by a storm, both the fire department and the Director of Emergency Management were in the area just after it happened. The fire truck just drove through and asked people if they were OK. The EM Director drove through the limbs, jumped out of his car and said, and in one breath said, "Carol, is everyone OK? Where is Al?". I assured him that all of the neighbors appeared to be OK and Al was in the back yard where a power line had come down, so almost in a run, he was off to the back yard. I am glad that they try to check on things quickly.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 12:19AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Sorie, I'm glad you got one. When we got ours, I didn't really think we'd ever use it, and I am shocked by how often we have had to use it. While a tornado hasn't hit our land since we moved here, we have had them in the sky flying right by. Trust me, when there is a storm chaser in the road right in front of your house hoping to get a good look at the funnel cloud or tornado that is coming your way, you want to be safe inside the shelter.

Like Carol said, if you register your shelter with your local emergency management office, they'll come checking on you after a severe storm (it doesn't have to be a tornado, it could be just a strong straight-line wind storm like a derecho or a microburst) comes through your area. They may not stop and ask if you are okay, but they'll look to make sure your shelter location isn't buried underneath debris. That's very important.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:20AM
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I saw that someone had posted on this thread, so I just had to look to see who was up so late. I should have known. I just made 3 pies and was waiting for them to cool a little so I could put them in the refrigerator, but I think I am about ready to go to bed.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 2:33AM
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sorie6(6b ok.)

Wow you ladies are night owls!! :)
We got the shelter from Twister safe.
DH liked the idea is being able to use it as
a work bench in garage. It is bolted to the floor
in a corner of the garage. I've registered it with the city but haven't with local EM. Not sure where that is? Can you tell me Carol? Over by the hospital? Thanks
Here is a pic of it. Plenty room for DH ,me and dog!! Now have to figure out what all I need to put in it!!
Carol I'm coming to visit you fresh pie YUMMMM!!!!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 7:40AM
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Thanks for bumping this one up. This is on my "To do list."


    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:10AM
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sorie6(6b ok.)

Welcome. this shelter is 6' long and 4'tall and 4' wide. You have it sit in it. I was a little concerned DH would have trouble getting into it but he said if a tornado is nipping at his behind he can get any place :)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 7:59AM
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Well dang, I have buyers remorse now. I had no idea bout the Storm Safe workbench. Would've fit right in my garage and cost $700 less ( from the best I can tell from their site ) .

I would still have the claustrophobic thing to deal with, but for those savings and to not have this shelter in the back yard that I have to look at, it would be worth it.

And really, odds are, I will never use it , its just about peace of mind. So the TV weather people won't be able to scare us to death over nothing.

I'm sort've looking forward to the first " severe weather event " of the season. When they start forecasting tornadoes, I won't get this knot in my stomach.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:18PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Carol, I cannot remember why I was up so late. Maybe that was the night we had a structure fire in the evening. After a couple of hours at a fire my adrenalin is always sky-high and I can't sleep for hours.

Three pies? One for you and Al, one for Sorie and her spouse, and one for me and Tim?

LCDollar, The peace of mind is priceless. At least once a year we are able to stand in our yard and watch a funnel cloud in the sky (obviously if it was on the ground,we'd be in the shelter with the door closed instead of standing outside right beside the shelter) fly overhead. Then, we listen to the radio or TV to see if/when/where that thing comes down to the ground. Usually it hits a county or two away, though occasionally it will sort of hop, skip and jump its way through our county, hitting a cow pasture or something.

There have been a couple of times I've been in the shelter with the door closed and latched securely, and the wind is so strong it feels like it is trying to pull the door up off the shelter, and my husband and son are at work in Dallas texting me and telling me what they see on the radar and to get to the shelter NOW and I am texting them back "I'm already there". I never realized how many tornado warnings we have here in our county until we had a shelter. That is sort of our family rule....or at least my rule. If we are under a warning and the tornado is anywhere close to our part of the county, I go to the shelter. I often am in there alone because if Tim and Chris are at home they're either out spotting tornadoes or are at the fire station setting off the tornado warning siren. I always give them a hard time and tell them "at least one of us is in the shelter and will survive".

I also have used it at various times as a root cellar to store potatoes and winter squash, among other things.

We planted an orange trumpet creeper vine to cover it. I prune it back pretty hard to keep it under control, but in the summer when the trumpet creeper is leafed out, all you see is a large green mound of vegetation with a storm shelter door. When the vine is bare in winter, the shelter is more obvious, but I don't care. Most people around us have these shelters sticking up out of the ground like a sore thumb. At least ours is buried under foliage in the growing season.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:55PM
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Dawn, I would make pie for you an Tim anytime if you weren't so far away. Funny, since we were born in the same Texas town, then later lived 30 miles apart in Oklahoma, but didn't meet until we lived over 300 miles from each other. I made the pies to take to a friends house, and that was my only contribution to the meal. I had one slice of coconut and left all of them there.

We all ate together again tonight and watched a movie. This time I cooked and we had lots of pizza. I almost always have one of her dishes at my house, or she has one of mine.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 11:53PM
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I'm in the " thinkin stage " , of turning mine into an elevated gazebo. That turbine and vent on the top, is a problem , but I think it can be done.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:19PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Carol, Well, because I had pie on the brain, we are having pie with dinner tonight. Thanks for the inspiration! We do live too far away from each other!

LCDollar, I had thought about doing that, but figured we've never get around to actually doing it. I think maybe you could put some sort of table or bench over the turbine and vent that wouldn't impede air flow but that would keep people from running into them.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 6:05PM
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I have been wanting to get a storm shelter, but all the earthquakes have given me pause. How safe are these things from getting cracked when things start shaking? After the 4.3 here in Edmond, I sorta wrote off the whole storm shelter idea because I didn't want to pay thousands for something that would just end up cracked when the earth shifted. I don't have the space for an above ground....my house small and my yard tiny and full of underground cables.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 8:24AM
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Being a 61 year old born and raised Okie, from my view, I've seen the interest in storm cellars change over my lifetime.

Growing up in the 50's and 60's, our family always had a cellar ( or a " fraidy hole " ) as my Grandmother called them. And we spent a lot of time in the cellar. My Grandfather worked for the Carter Oil company in Seminole ( which eventually became Exxon ) . He moved there around 1930 when the Seminole oil field was booming. Back then, the oil companies would build camps for their employees to live, because there was no housing, and the Carter Oil camp had two big concrete cellars installed by the company. One of them right next to my Grandad's house. But everybody had access.

Then when he retired and moved into Seminole, he had a cellar built . On stormy evenings, my parents would take us to Grandad's and we spent the entire evening there, with my Grandad watching the clouds. Our warning system consisted of the men of the Seminole Civil Defense, who would take positions out on the outskirts of town and watch for tornados and would give word to blow the sirens. Some neighbors would show up and it became a social event as everyone chatted and passed the time.

Around late 70's , my parents built their own cellar, but also that was the time when TV warnings were getting much better. They started using radar. And in my adult life, up till now, I'd never thought a cellar was a good investment because the warnings kept getting better and better.

From other people I've talked with, they did the same, and houses with cellars become fewer than back in the 1940's and 1950's.

My plan had always been to leave the house and go to a sheltered place, like Crossroads Mall. But after the debacle last May 31, when I got caught in traffic because everyone else had decided to get out of the storm's path, I then decided I needed a shelter.

Its like we've come full circle, from a time that lack of any warning made a cellar almost a necessity, to warnings making cellars less important, to a time when the warnings are so good, we need a shelter again.

This post was edited by LCDollar on Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 20:16

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 6:39PM
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It is still somewhat of a social event at my house and there are usually 3 families at our house when storms come. Usually people start calling to see what I think. LOL If I say it's time, then they all come running. Sometimes they come earlier and we visit and eat popcorn and I monitor the computer while they watch the TV weather. If it looks close, then we move into the storm shelter.

We didn't own a shelter when I was in grade school, but there was one just across the street and all of the neighbors went there. I remember seeing roofs lifted off and trees uprooted, but nothing like I have seen in the last 25 years. I have just been too close, or had my family too close, to not seek shelter when I think storms are near.

We keep ours equipped with food, water, and camping supplies and have told our children that we will be right here if we ever get hit so no one has to look for us. At least, that is the plan.

George, better get one.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:01PM
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Carol, I recall you posted about your shelter before but I cannot find the post. I would like an above-ground shelter (my grandma is 94 this year and couldn't get into a below-ground shelter) but I come from a large family so need to have a good-sized space. Could you share the approximate size of your shelter?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:14PM
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Mia, it is 10x12 on the outside, but quite a bit less on the inside because of the thickness of the walls. Maybe I can explain it, but not easily. A thick concrete pad was poured first and then form blocks were placed to form the walls. The blocks are two inches of styrofoam on each side of an open space that has plastic strips molded into the foam creating a four inch space. The plastic strips are made for rebar to snap into the openings. The blocks link together and you build one level at a time by tying in the rebar before adding the next level of blocks. The picture below is just a scrap piece which has a cut in it, and it doesn't show the locking parts that hold the blocks together, but maybe it will give you an idea. Your walls end up with insulation on both sides of a heavily reinforced concrete. Ours was constructed so that the walls and the ceiling were done all in a single pour, so there are no seams.

So the walls are from inside to outside: 1/2 inch of plywood, 2 inches of foam, 4 inches of reinforced concrete, 2 inches of foam, 1/2 of plywood, and 1/2 inch of concrete board. So you can see why the inside is smaller than the outside. LOL

The top has a lot of rebar in it as well, but then the top is covered with a steel roof just like the rest of the house, so from the outside it is just a room with no windows. From the inside it has a thick metal door with the facings in place before the concrete pour, so they have extra strength, and the door opens to the inside so you can always get it open, and it locks with dead bolts in 3 places.

The floor is level with the floor of the house, so you just walk into it. It was expensive to build, but any shelter would be expensive where we live. It took 2 backhoes to dig out enough rock for a new septic tank. We hit solid rock at about 3 1/2 feet, so going underground would have been expensive also. We live on a ridge and you may hit rock quickly and your neighbor may be able to go 7 or 8 feet and hit nothing.

FEMA in OKC has plans that you can order for several types of shelters. Ours exceeds the requirements.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:41PM
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My wife's grandparents did the same as mine, they were in the cellar every time a storm came through, as they had no way of knowing if it was tornadic or just a thunderstorm.

People spent a lot of time in their cellars before radar and TV warnings :) .

I'm amazed that I went through the 80's and 90's without giving much thought to tornadoes, much less building a storm shelter. I guess it was the May 3, 1999 F5 that woke me up, but its not like Oklahoma had never seen an F5 before.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:15AM
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Thanks, Carol. I'm guessing the inner dimensions are about 18" smaller on all sides than the outer, so that gives me some idea. Also, the realization that I need to find out if the shelters I'm looking at are measured at inner or outer dimensions!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 11:51AM
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Hey guys, my name is Blake and I am with F5 Storm Shelters. We have locations in both OKC and Tulsa. If anybody wants more information about tornado shelters please feel free to call me. I am at the Tulsa store. our address is 10846 S. Memorial Dr. Tulsa, Ok 74133. My phone number there is (918) 970-4770.

If you are closer to OKC, there address is 16524 N. Pennsylvania Edmond, OK 73012. Phone number to the showroom is (405) 216-3999.

We would love to answer any questions you may have. Stay Alive, Call F5!

Here is a link that might be useful: F5 Storm Shelters

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:33PM
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We have an old well-built underground shelter. It must have been a cadillac of shelters in its time. Totally underground with 8 foot in height and about 6 foot wide and twelve foot long. Slab on top and concrete steps leading down. Eventually, a storage shed was built atop as well as a cover building over the stairs.

It builds up water in there where a sump pump is required year round or we'll be sheltering with snakes and toads. Today, I'm seeing a need for French drains on either side and, perhaps, in the front of it to ease underground water run off.

I wanted to add this in case anyone is considering installing an underground safe house made of simple construction using CMU/Cinder blocks. I know nothing of the new versions.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 1:11PM
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