Homeowner, family rode out tornado in self-made storm shelter

PERRYVILLE, MO (KTVI) - The tornado that ripped through Perryville on Tuesday evening has been classified as an EF-4, the largest the area has ever seen.

One house in the path of destruction was a two-story house. Built by hand, the homeowner also constructed a storm shelter for his family in some empty space in the garage.

Perry County Emergency Management Director Hank Voelker said the homeowner built the shelter only waist high because he knew that if he built it any bigger his family would use it as a store closet.

Tuesday night, a family of four huddled in the shelter together while the tornado went right over their heads.

Voelker said he has no doubt the homeowner who built it saved his family’ lives and called him a hero.

"We always think heroes carry a badge a or gun, drag a fire hose or drive an ambulance, those are the everyday heroes we all know, but this guy proved you can carry a hammer and nail and be a famer and be a hero, because that’s what this guy is," Voelker said.

Voelker encourages everyone to plan ahead and look into building or getting a shelter if needed. He also said they no longer need item donations, now all they need is money and volunteers of any skill level. If you want to volunteer he asked you to go to the Perry Parks Center to sign up for work orders.