'79-'`17 Tornado Series: Underground Home

All this week, we are taking a look back at the days right after the 1979 Wichita Falls tornado and visiting some sites to see what they look like today.

When you go into most two story homes, the staircase from the front door leads up.

But, when you visit Steve and Donna Young at their home just off Southwest Parkway, you'll go downstairs because the home is underground.

Mike Wood:  "When we got back to what used to be my home, there wasn't much to see. We could barely recognize it."

Wood owned the home in '79, and was determined to move forward with a pretty radical idea in mind.

Rebuild underground.

Wood:  "You know Kevin, it hasn't changed. People still think I'm crazy."

So, in came the machines

Wood:  "At the time, when we brought all the equipment in and started digging this giant hole in the ground, it attracted quite a bit of attention, and as we were building, the neighbors were worried about what this was going to be."

Once the home was finished, the neighbors warmed up to the idea.

Wood:  "Well after we got it done, every time it got cloudy and the wind blew a little bit, or if the tornado sirens went off, they all wanted to see inside."

Steve and Donna Young live in the home today, with no windows

Young:  "I'm great. It's just so quiet.  Quiet and dark as pitch. When you talk about you can't see your hand in front of your face, it's really spooky. It's spooky dark, not spooky scary."

Living underground has energy benefits too.

Young:   "Oh yeah, the electric bill last month was $26."

And, when the wind blows today....

Young:  "Well it means you have a lot of company."

Wood:  "To be truthful, even today, if I hear the tornado sirens, the hair stands up on the back of my neck."

Donna Young says there is one rule at the house when the sirens blow.

Regardless of what time of day or night, if the door is unlocked and the lights are on, you can come on down.
 


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