Shell Point’s Hurricane Shelter Unique

Residents Thankful For Their Port in the Storm

FORT MYERS, FL (July 1, 1999) – Where’s the safest place to be in a hurricane? For residents of Shell Point the answer is simple – and close to home.
Their port in any storm is the facility’s parking garage, which works doubletime as a hurricane shelter strong enough to withstand a Category Five storm with winds up to and beyond 200 mph… even bigger than were felt in 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which devastated southeast Florida.

Shell Point’s directors realized the ineffectiveness of an evacuation of The Island’s residents, including some who are bedfast, in the event of a hurricane. The directors began looking into the possibility of a shelter on The Island itself. After two years of planning, four months designing, and six months building, the hurricane shelter was completed.

To maximize the shelter’s usefulness, planners chose a parking garage design, which serves as its everyday function. The designers and contractors set much more stringent criteria than current building codes require, so this could be the sturdiest parking garage in the state. Its foundation is made of precast concrete piles driven into bearing soils approximately 65 to 70 feet below grade. Next, the construction used precast concrete elevated floor and roof slabs, and precast beams, columns, and shear walls. According to Robert S. Rude of Jenkins & Charland, Inc., a Fort Myers consulting engineering firm, the “precast concrete system provides a durable, low maintenance parking garage and a strong, impact resistant hurricane structure.”

The storm shutters and doors are made of all aluminum and stainless steel with all stainless fasteners. In a storm, they will swing down over openings and be bolted in place to seal off the building from wind, rain, and flying debris. One inch thick rubber gaskets around the panels seal any cracks around the frames. To prevent leakage, the roof was coated with 1400 gallons of roof coating material, while 215 gallons of caulking was used throughout the rest of the building. Finally, all mechanical equipment, including the emergency generator and roof top exhaust fans, were protected with precast concrete shrouds for intake and exhaust.

The generator has 1000 gallons of fuel capacity and will burn about six gallons per hour at a 70% load for one full week of operation. Coupled with emergency food and water supplies, the shelter provides a safe and nominally hospitable environment for Shell Point’s 1,400 residents and 500 employees for more than a week.

Extensive testing was conducted throughout the construction to determine the shelter’s efficiency. To calculate its wind resistance, a wind tunnel test on a scale model of the building was used. The shutters and doors were tested for impact using criteria set by Miami/Dade County. The test used a nine-pound wooden 2×4 shot out of a cannon at 50 feet per second, which “barely scratched the surface,” according to Fred Edman, Project Manager of Wright Construction, which collaborated with Shell Point in the building of the shelter.

Altogether, the building weighs approximately 15 million pounds. According to Edman, “You do not have to worry about the building blowing away.”
Residents are thankful to have the peace of mind that should a storm ever threaten southwest Florida, they know the safest place to be is right at home… at Shell Point.

Stay Connected

More Updates

Shell Point Press Room

There is always something new and exciting happening at Shell Point. As the industry leader in lifecare and active retirement living, Shell Point is proud of its 2,400 residents, more than 1,000 employees, and quality programs and facilities. The resources below will help you discover the newest developments at Florida’s largest lifecare retirement resort!


News-related inquiries, requests for interviews, permission to use stories, photographs, and other public requests for information, please contact:


For questions regarding this material or requests for additional artwork, please contact: