Van Zandt County

2017 Van Zandt County Tornado Survivor Shares Storm Preparations Ahead of Thursday's Threat

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Stacey Barnett Buck says she’s been living with PTSD since a tornado tore through her home in Van Zandt County in 2017.

A $4,000 tornado shelter built next to her mobile home has provided ‘piece of mind’ anytime the wind begins to whip, and her nerves take over.

“It’s a fear but it’s also a safety mechanism because I’m fixing to go somewhere,” she said pointing at the concrete structure.

Barnett Buck installed the shelter almost a year after seven tornados ripped through the county in 2017 killing four people and injuring 50 others, including Barnett Buck and her daughter.

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Stacey Barnett Buck had a $4,000 tornado shelter built next to her home.

Her home and her parents’ two-story house on the same plot of land were destroyed.

She shares photographs of the aftermath with friends hoping they take storms seriously.

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“I don’t want anybody to feel what I felt,” said Barnett Buck. “To have my daughter ripped from my arms and then to get up and not to know if I’m going to find them alive or at all, it’s not anything I want for anybody. It still haunts me to this day.”

That tornado outbreak seemingly split around the city of Canton avoiding a direct hit.

“After the tornados of 2017, everybody is pretty much weather aware especially on First Monday. Now, I don’t know why God hates us on First Monday, but it always seems this bad stuff happens,” joked longtime Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett.

Texas SkyRanger flew over Kaufman and Van Zandt counties Thursday, a day after four tornadoes touched down in the areas near Kemp, Mabank and Canton.

Everett says city and county leaders are staying in close contact with storm chasers and the National Weather Service out of Fort Worth and Shreveport ahead of potential storms expected Thursday afternoon.

“We are aware, and we are alert and hope just by being ready we don’t need anything,” said Everett.

Thursday is the first day of the city’s popular monthly flea market First Monday Trade Days.

“My husband says the metal roofs on First Monday either attract tornados or repel rain, so we’re just waiting,” she said.

Barnett Buck’s family is stocking up on a few essentials just in case.

Her underground storm shelter is stocked with chairs, crackers, water and important documents.

She hopes people across the region avoid panicking but remain vigilant, and prepared at a moment’s notice.

“Pray,” she said. “And if you get that feeling, if that hair on the back of your neck sticks up or you think ‘maybe we better get somewhere,’ don’t second guess it. Get somewhere.”

She advises those who seek shelter in their home to have football helmets inside their closet to protect their head in case of falling debris.

The mayor is preparing her home by securing outdoor furniture and finding a garage for her car.

Authorities also encourage having shoes with you in case of scattered debris.

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