May 20 brought reasons to remember the Moore tornadoes of a year before, and others, as well as how Oklahomans responded with renewed precaution and by lending a hand.
Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity started helping with relief and recovery soon after the tornadoes tore through Moore. Ann Felton, CEO, said the nonprofit organization built numerous houses for people who lost theirs.
“The first house we built was for a family in Bethel Acres who absolutely lost everything,” Felton said. “The next family we helped was a family in Carney, who had four kids. Not only did they lose their house but their business as well, which was on the same property.”
Central Oklahoma Habitat builds homes for limited-income families throughout Central Oklahoma. The houses feature two-car garages, are energy efficient and have storm shelters, Felton said.
“It takes about 12 weeks to build these houses,” she said. “We worked with about 9,000 volunteers last year and we can’t do what we do in the community without volunteer man power.”
Storm safety has become a way of life, she said.
“I think that people have to realize that this is what we have to contend with and plan ahead for,” she said. “People with storm shelters are doing a great job with keeping them stocked. It’s better to just be prepared.”
Storm shelter sales increased after last summer’s tornadoes, said Barry Stephenson, vice president of Storm Safe Shelters, 6415 S Interstate 35.
“We have five different models from extra small to jumbo that are easy to install and affordable,” Stephenson said. “For our smaller units, the installer can be there and have it done in two hours. For our larger units it can take up to three quarters of the day.”
Stephenson said people should store important documents, water, a ready bag and a whistle in their shelters.
“For some reason if you are stuck, register with the city so they will come looking for you,” Stephenson said. “Have the preparations down there that will sustain you until rescue comes. Even though people may never ever use their shelter, they will feel the security and safety of having one nearby.”
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