NORMAN — Christie England's custom cake shop, Sugar, lost parts of its roof, both front windows and several one-of-a-kind creations late Friday afternoon after a tornado raked across downtown Norman.
England was working in her shop with a couple of her employees when the twister struck her business, near Webster and Gray avenues. The area, including Andrews Park just to the north, was among the hardest hit in Norman. A shopping center across the street was littered with mangled steel, likely sections of roof that once covered nearby buildings.
“It actually happened pretty fast,” England said. “All of the glass pulled in, so we jumped in the walk-in. When we came out, we'd lost two front windows, a side window and we're just trying to save wedding cakes right now.”
After a quick survey of the battered interior of her usually neat and clean shop, England detailed her losses heading into the weekend — her busiest time of the week.
“This whole wall was actually full of wedding cakes and we had a few birthday cakes that were actually finished,” she said. “Everything, all together, it's at least $3,000.”
Josh Henning, an employee at Sugar, played the role of hero when the tornado touched down near the business, which is across the street from the Norman Public Library.
“The front door swung open and so I ran over there to close it and lock it and the windows kind of flexed in,” Henning said. “And that's when I noticed the street sign kind of bent over and it just looked like a hurricane out there. As soon as we got in the walk-in we heard the crashes and bangs.”
Henning estimated the whole ordeal played out in three minutes or less.
“It was kind of scary,” he said. “It was more exciting than anything. But it happened too fast.”
Despite the damage, Henning said Sugar's customers will get their orders over the weekend. Three or four weddings and several birthday parties and other special events are counting on Sugar to deliver, regardless of the act of nature that slung cakes all over the place.
“We had some brides call in about their cakes already,” he said, a can of beer in one hand. “They seemed more concerned about them than our safety ... but that's the way it goes, I guess.
“Tomorrow's going to be a long day.”
Given the close call and the several tons of steel resting mere feet from the business, things certainly could've been worse.