First Tornado Shelter For Local Town Now Open

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LAVACA (KFSM) -- Before you know it, tornadoes and thunderstorms will be here instead of the winter weather. With this, it's important to have somewhere to go when severe weather hits.

A new concrete tornado shelter is now located behind Lavaca Elementary School. This is the first-ever shelter in the community where folks can take cover when severe weather strikes.

The shelter cost a little more than $1 million. Most of the money to build it came from a FEMA grant that took more than seven years to get. The rest of the money came from the school itself.

Before this shelter, students would take cover in the hallways with their hands over their heads. However, the 4,500 square-foot facility can hold up to 700 people inside and will be open to the public. "For instance, on Saturday and Sunday or after school hours," said Principal Sam Slott. "We won't turn anyway away if there's a tornado threat in the area."

Construction on the storm shelter started in August 2016. The district decided to build it at the elementary school instead of the middle or high schools because it has the largest amount of kids. "It's for the security and safety of our students," said Slott. " When you see the devastation that can happen when a tornado comes through, the shelters have saved many lives," according to Slott.

Construction crews are still finishing up the final touches inside the storm shelter. Principal Slott said they should have their first tornado drill by the end of January.

The school district does have plans to build more storm shelters in the future at the middle school and high school in Lavaca.