EL RENO — The photos of a wind turbine blade sticking out of a day care center at the Canadian Valley Technology Center campus quickly went viral on social media in the aftermath of last Friday's deadly tornado.
The blade was not from a working turbine and was anchored to the ground nearby for training purposes until the tornado pulled it loose, officials said. Nobody was in the building that hosts the day care and health care training classes when the storm passed through. Fifteen people on campus at the time sought shelter in the basement of another building.
The CareerTech has had a wind energy training program since 2010. Two training wind turbine towers are on campus and were not damaged by a direct hit from the storm. One 85-foot tower doesn't have blades, while a 126-foot tower does have blades.
“It was used for fiberglass repair, which is a component of the class,” Bill Kramer, spokesman for Canadian Valley Technology Center, said of the 16,000-pound blade that ended up on the building.
All buildings at the CareerTech's El Reno campus were damaged by the storm. Kramer said preliminary damage estimates from Superintendent Greg Winters could be more than $30 million, but the insurance company and its engineers have yet to complete their reports.
Canadian Valley has signed an agreement to use the old John Holt Chevrolet dealership building in El Reno as the temporary home for the El Reno campus, Kramer said. The building has about 93,000 square feet for full-time programs and short-term courses offered in El Reno.
“It'll be a little tighter than what we're use to,” Kramer said.
The CareerTech also has a contract with Church of Christ South Yukon to provide space for the day care and early learning program, he said.
Boston-based Atlantic Power Corp. operates the nearby Canadian Hills wind farm, which began operations last year. It had no damage from the May 31 storm and all its employees are safe, spokeswoman Amanda Wagemaker said in an email. The 300-megawatt wind farm has 136 turbines.