Cactus to Build Public Shelter

Clean-up efforts continue in Cactus, as the city recovers from a tornado that ripped through the city nearly two years ago.

The city is taking steps to prepare, in case disaster strikes again. Crews are almost done cleaning up debris leftover from the tornado in 2007, and now they're moving on to phase two of tornado preparation-a community storm shelter.

Cactus City Manager Steve Schmidt-Witcher says, "We haven't forgotten 2007." And they'll always remember how lucky they were that no lives were lost. "There was a lot of advance notice with this tornado and fortunately, that's what saved a lot of lives in the community. We might not get that fortunate next time."

That's where the piece of land next to City Hall comes in. It will take about nine months to complete, but once it's done, it will be a safe haven for Cactus residents.

Scott Caldwell with the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission says, it will be "a space that will house about fifty people at least. There will be storage for canned food, bottled water."

It's something officials say was needed long before the tornado heavily damaged the town two years ago. Schmidt-Witcher says, "It's a transitional type of community. Not a whole lot of basements or solid home structures."

But, building a shelter was impossible without funding; 64,000 dollars worth of funding that recently came through.

Caldwell says,48,000 of it is FEMA dollars, and the City of Cactus will match 16,000 dollars of that. Several local business owners have constructed their own shelters, but this is the first shelter to be officially built with city money.

Cactus residents should be able to take advantage of the new shelter during the 2010 tornado season.