Residents flock to Ralls shelter during Thursday storm - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Residents flock to Ralls shelter during Thursday storm

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RALLS, TX (KCBD) -

On Thursday, people in Ralls took full advantage of the town's tornado shelter as severe weather began blowing in.

"Around two o'clock it started to get really ugly out toward Floydada," Ida Zuniga said. "I live in a mobile home so I wasn't going to take any chances. I've got a five year old little girl and she is my life, so I'd rather my baby be safe than a tornado come and take us."

Ida was just one of about 50 people who came to the shelter Thursday. While the town's tornado sirens did not go off, many parents still picked up their children early from school to bring them to safety.

"I just want to protect the kids. That is the most important thing is to protect our babies," she said.

While the building looks like a normal community center, this shelter can actually stand through an EF5 tornado with 16-inch thick concrete walls and steel doors. The shelter can hold more than 500 people. That's about 25% of the Ralls population.

But on Thursday, the first to arrive at the shelter weren't even Ralls natives. Francis Savage, a New Mexico resident, was helping her daughter move to Baltimore, Maryland when they were caught in the storm.

"We were driving and saw the storms and the clouds starting to get dark. We heard the warning on the radio and pulled into a store," Francis said. "The lady at the counter said get to the shelter, and told us exactly where to go, so we came straight here."

When she walked through the doors, and flipped on the lights Francis says she could not believe how nice the shelter was to be tucked away in such a small town.

"I know what tornadoes can do. I've been in hurricanes when I lived on the east coast. They are very destructive so having a safe place, with cable TV to keep track of the weather, with bathrooms and air conditioning, this is awesome," she said.

Days like Thursday are the reason the Ralls City Council voted to build the shelter. Back in 1935 a tornado killed two residents, and the town was almost hit again back in 2005. Finished in 2008, it took about a year to build the shelter that is continually stocked with food, water, blankets and other supplies.

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