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Oklahoma City home to hidden population of undocumented people

Newcomers lack “common storm sense” when it comes to Oklahoma's severe weather.
BY JULIANA KEEPING AND HANNAH COVINGTON Modified: July 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm •  Published: July 14, 2013

A strong showing

People from Guatemala are coming to Oklahoma City, part of a greater boom in the Hispanic population, said David Castillo, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Castillo described the growth in the Hispanic population as “incredible.”

While most of the growth comes from Mexico, Guatemalan businesses like Cafe Kacao and Cafe Antigua, grocery stores and other businesses are signs that the Guatemalan community is making a strong showing here, Castillo said.

Claudia Barajas came to the United States 20 years ago from Colombia. She never had seen a tornado in her country.

Barajas, who now works at the Latino Community Development Agency, said she felt lost during her first experiences with severe weather in Oklahoma.

Cifuentes and Santos and their son, Alex, died taking cover in a storm drain, along with a relative and her three children.

“A lot of Latinos, even middle-age and older, don't have that common storm sense,” Barajas said. “They were not born in this country and don't have the basic information or training of how to act, and they just don't know what to do until it's too late.”