VELMA — Velma storm spotters sprang into action when a tornado warning was issued in eastern Stephens County Tuesday evening.

The warning was issued at 6:53 p.m. Storm sirens were sounded and the shelter was opened at Velma-Alma schools.

Velma EMS employee Patricia Snider activated the sirens after receiving a phone call about a tornado sighting north of Velma in the Bray area. The storm alarm system alerted the community to the possible threat of a tornado.

“Everyone seemed to react right away,” Snider said. “We got the shelter open in just a few minutes, and the storm spotters went out immediately.”

Construction was completed on the town’s storm shelter in 2006. The building has a capacity of more than 500 people.

About 30 people made use of the shelter Tuesday and reports of other people using personal shelters were also discussed by the storm spotters.

The storm was moving south to southeast, headed for Velma, which was under a tornado watch until 7:30 p.m.

At 7:31 p.m., the all-clear was sounded in the Town of Velma, and residents left the storm shelter. Less than 15 minutes later, the storm spotters returned to Velma Town Hall.

Ironically, Snider had just rescheduled the town’s tornado drill, originally set for April 18.

The town-wide tornado drill will be held some time between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. April 30. The exercise will demonstrate to community leaders and agencies how many people will fit into the storm shelter.

People will need to park in the gym parking lot and enter the north side of the storm shelter.

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