Gearing up for severe weather

Diana Crawford
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - People across the Panhandle are gearing up for tornado season and it starts this week with severe weather awareness.

The American Red Cross is doing their part this Saturday, with a statewide drill, the first of its' kind, and over 800 people will participate.

Local volunteers will visit designated houses for mock emergency assistance. They will assess damage that tornadoes and other severe weather cause and determine what emergency supplies are needed. Vicky Richmond of the Amarillo Red Cross Chapter says, "The last two tornadoes were in Tulia and Cactus. Because of the fact that they were at opposite ends of the Panhandle, we came to realize we've got to get more prepared, we have to have more supplies, we have to have more volunteers that are trained, we have to have more practice runs, so that we'll know exactly what to do in the event of two disasters occurring, or a very large disaster."

Panhandle residents are also being pushed to prepare for tornado season with a program offering rebates on tornado shelters.

We first told you about the program being offered by the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission last month. But as it came to a close just days ago, there are still 150 slots available.

The rebate covers half the cost of a shelter and the installation through a special grant from FEMA. The PRPC is still taking applications, and they say it's time to act now, if you need a shelter for your home. Elizabeth Thomas of the PRPC says, "Once these approval letters go out, people will be lining up with shelter installers to get their shelters put in. There will probably be a bit of a wait list and tornado season is coming, it's right around the corner and you want this in place so you feel great about the safety of you and your family."

194 people applied during the first round. The PRPC says they are asking for surplus funding to provide more shelter rebates to people across the panhandle. Visit theprpc.org to register for the rebate program.