It was a decision that likely saved four lives.
While the rest of their home was obliterated in a matter of seconds Sunday afternoon, Phillips, wife Amber and their kids, ages 2 and 6 months, survived without a scratch inside their safe room, which doubles as a closet.
The family had been watching an online Easter service on Sunday morning. Phillips, a volunteer firefighter, then started tracking the weather online and with the help of a fire radio.
“I was in there about 20 seconds when it hit,” he said. “The house is gone, everything but the safe room.”
The family had been living in the house only a few weeks. The safe room was one of the reasons he bought it, Phillips said.
Clothes were still hanging neatly inside the vault-like structure after the tumult. But the man’s meat-processing business next door was smashed, as were their cars. Pieces of broken lumber, splintered trees and twisted wiring littered their property.
“I’m just going to let the insurance handle it and trust in the good Lord,” Phillips told The Associated Press by phone Monday. “We’re going to try to come back bigger and better.”