Jarrell residents say storm shelters comforting in threat of storms


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE


Posted on May 21, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 21 at 6:20 PM

JARRELL, Texas -- On May 27th, 1997 an F5 tornado overtook the small town of Jarrell, northwest of Austin, killing 27 people and destroying businesses and homes.

Marvin Williams said the only thing you could see of the home he currently lives in was the water pipe sticking up. The house was rebuilt on the same slab it once stood, with the addition of a storm shelter.

"It does make you feel more comfortable and safe. We've had to use it once," said Williams.

Jarrell Storm Shelters installed his underground unit. A couple started the company after the '97 tornado. The pre-built standard model costs $3,500. It's six-by-eight feet and fits eight to 12 people.

Conrad's Castles, out of Bastrop, can custom design an above ground concrete shelter.

"It can withstand anything mother nature has. So you've got protection," owner Ralph Smooth said.

The project Smooth's currently working on is an underground concrete home, which he says will serve as a shelter.

Officer Crystal Smolen showed KVUE News the shelters at the Community Center, for those in Jarrell who don't have their own protection.

"They are open for the public to come in explore and operate," said Smolen.

Smolen said it's so people can get familiar and feel safe in them, because they're small and dark inside.

Williams recommends being prepared, because you never know when you may have to take cover.


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