Oklahoma City residents flock to get storm shelter permits

Brandon Onley, 25, is one of thousands of Oklahoma City residents who have been interested in preparing for this year’s severe weather with a storm shelter. Many though are surprised to discover there is more to obtaining a shelter than simply having one put in.
By Kyle Schwab, Staff Writer Published: April 7, 2014
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Brandon Onley waited an hour and a half before he had an approved storm shelter permit in hand. He thought the wait would be much longer.

Since the massive tornadoes that struck the metro area last spring, the city has been issuing an average of about 700 storm shelter permits per month, city officials provided. The number of monthly permits nearly tripled last month when compared with the number in December 2013.

On the eighth floor of the city’s development center at 420 W Main St., where building and storm shelter permits are issued, wait times, such as Onley experienced, could be over an hour.

As he left the office, Onley, 25, said, “I’ll feel safer this year.”

He is one of thousands of Oklahoma City residents who have been interested in preparing for this year’s severe weather with a shelter. Many though are surprised to discover there is more to obtaining a shelter than simply having one put in.

Another resident, Ethel Cecil, 56, described the application process as “difficult for the average person,” mainly confused by the signage. She found herself in one line only to be told to move to a different line.

Last year’s storms damaged roofs, fences and trees in her subdivision. This tornado season, she isn’t taking any chances.

“We were just wanting to be more prepared,” Cecil said after paying the $53.50 fee for the permit. “I need a safe place.”

She waited just over one hour, leaving by about 3:30 p.m. City officials noted that lines get long during the lunch hour.

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permits issued

2009 calendar year: 322 shelter permits

2010: 471 shelter permits

2011: 1,230 shelter permits

2012: 2,469 shelter permits

2013: 6,070 shelter permits

•May 20, 2013 to March 31, 2014: 7,149 shelter permits

January 2014 through March 31, 2014: 2,482 shelter permits

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