SARAGOSA, TX (KWES) - It was a tragedy that destroyed a small west Texas town 30 years ago on May 22, 1987. An F4 tornado ripped through Saragosa killing 30 and injuring more than 100. It remains one of the deadliest tornadoes in the state.
The town today has rebuilt since then but still remembers that deadly day.
Saragosa is a small town. It doesn't have a grocery store or even a school but it does have a dark past.
"It's not forgotten. Every year we think about it," said tornado survivor, Elia Estrada.
That day is permanently etched in Estrada's mind.
"The building just started falling, shattering down," said Estrada.
It was on that day when Saragosa residents gathered for a head start graduation at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
Estrada and others in the town were unaware an F4 tornado was coming their way until a parent went outside and saw it.
"He came back hollering that a tornado was coming. There was this lady trying to come people down because it just got everybody by surprise," said Estrada.
Everyone quickly panicked and took cover, but it was too late, the tornado was destroying everything in its path. In a state of panic, Estrada saw two little girls who needed help and her instinct was to cover them while the tornado hit.
"Just taking care of them, you know, saving them from something bad," she said.
Finding out later, the girls mother passed away. In fact, 22 people died in the rubble of that church hall, another eight died throughout the small town. About 25 percent of Saragosa's population.
"It's still not the same," said Estrada.
Despite 80 percent of the town being destroyed, they rebuilt and still celebrate the lives of those lost 30 years ago.
Every year, the church holds a mass for the victims. The mass will be held May 20, 2017, at 4:30 p.m. in Saragosa.
Families of the victims visit from out of town to remember their loved ones.