LEAWOOD, Kan. - So far things have been fairly quiet in the Kansas City area this severe weather season.
And that's good news to Shannah Kushnir, a wife and mother to three children.
"Not everyone has this horrible fear of storms. Some people are fascinated by them. I'm not one of those," Kushnir told 41 Action News Chief Meteorologist Gary Lezak .
Kushnir grew up in Liberty, Mo., but she and her husband now own a house in Leawood, Kan.
"When I was little, my mom said I just watched the Weather Channel all the time," said Kushnir.
When Kushnir was around 5 years old, she was told stories about a family tragedy involving a tornado and she's had a fear of storms ever since.
"My great-grandparents were killed in a tornado and so was my great aunt," said Kushnir. "My grandma's sister was on the phone with them at the time and the phone line just went dead."
"They also found my great aunt draped over a barbed wire fence," she said.
In recent years, horrific tornadoes have raked across the United States.
An EF5 tornado devastated Greensburg in Kiowa County, Kan., on May 4, 2007. The twister wiped out 95 percent of the city and killed 11 people.
Just last year, another EF5 tornado tracked right through the heart of Joplin, Mo., and killed 161 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
Mike Lee rode out the storm in the bathroom of an ice cream parlor.
"Once we got into the bathroom, we heard the glass breaking and all of a sudden there was debris swirling around and people screaming and praying," Lee told 41 Action News right after the storm.
Most tornadoes do not have the strength of EF5 tornadoes. About 99 percent of tornadoes are much weaker and will leave structures still standing.
Still, the Kansas City, Mo., metro area lies in tornado alley and is not immune to major tornadoes.
That's why Kushnir insisted when looking for a new home; she and her husband find one with an area in the basement they could turn into a storm shelter.
Just like a growing number of families in the Kansas City area, they wanted a safe place for their family to go.
The house the Kushnirs found in Leawood had a room off the basement that sits under the front porch and had a cement ceiling and cement walls all around.
The family added a steel door and dead bolt to the room and made the interior more comfortable by adding a futon, television set, blankets, a first aid kit, snacks and supplies.
"When there's a watch or potential for severe weather, I never go to sleep, so I'm up the whole time," Kushnir told Gary. "We have some snacks here and I have diapers and wipes because we have a baby. We have our bottled water, our first aid kit, and our weather radio."
On May 24, 2011 – two days after a tornado struck Joplin – severe weather rolled into the Kansas City area.
Kushnir was not at home as the tornado sirens sounded but was shopping at Town Center Plaza. When she realized she wouldn't be able to make it to their house, she got into her car and took shelter at nearby Menorah Medical Center.
"That was the closest place. And I know hospitals don't lock their doors where every retail store will either lock you in or out," said Kushnir.
Sedalia, Mo., had a damaging tornado that day.
Kushnir said the storm shelter provides her and her family a level of comfort many people likely don't have when tornado sirens start to sound.
"This makes me feel safe. And it makes me very calm for my kids."