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2012 profiles: Devastation prompts couple to build storm shelter

Loss of home to tornado shows couple need for storm shelter as they rebuild home, lives
by Bryan Painter Published: January 15, 2012
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— Duane and Tiffany Johnson used to chase storms.

May 24, one chased them.

An EF5 crumbled and splintered their home, but didn't harm their family. Without an above- or below-ground safe room of their own, they sought refuge at a storm shelter in a neighbor's garage floor.

The next day, while equipment was being used to move the remnants of walls during cleanup, the Johnsons decided that when they built their new house, they would also build an in-ground shelter near the back porch. They expect to complete both in 2012.

“We had talked about how the safest place in our house is the center point which was kind of like our pantry and underneath our staircase,” Tiffany said. “It was completely gone. If for some reason we were in our house when it hit, I strongly believe we would not be here.”

That afternoon, Tiffany was in the garage floor shelter of some neighbors who live across the creek from the Johnsons. Her husband, Duane, who was still at his house, watched the tornado as it approached another neighbor's three-story house. At that point, he hurried across the bridge and joined his wife in the garage floor shelter.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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