Oklahoma Oddity: Tornado Shelters

When I was a ten years old, my family moved to Oklahoma City from Arizona. It was a big adjustment. For one thing, the weather here is much more volatile than the weather in the desert. In the desert, there were lots of storms, dust and heat but it is nothing like the extremes faced here in Oklahoma.

We moved here in the fall, thinking that it would going to be a really good idea. We had no idea that once fall was over, ice storms and blizzards would set in. That particular year wasn’t bad for winter storms, but apparently that’s not a good sign for the spring weather here.

It was that spring that I first heard a tornado siren go of during a storm. Sure, I’d heard them every Saturday at noon for months, but hearing them go off in the midst of a screaming, furious rain with winds that stripped leaves from the trees? Terrifying.

We stumbled into a leaky old storm shelter in my neighbors yard. It smelled like old cats and mold. Spiders inhabited most of the space. My mother is terrified of them. I am still slightly certain that she had a mild heart attack in the midst of all this as one touched her hand.

After ten minutes, the storm quieted down and we were able to come out. I half hoped they’d fling the doors open to find that we had somehow been transported to Oz. Instead, the doors opened to a normal, Oklahoma after-the-storm-view of debris and deck furniture scattered in the yard.

Since then, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in storm shelters. My husband and I decided after buying our first house to put in a below ground shelter in the garage. After careful research, we decided that this was the safest possible tornado shelter, as the storm would have to go through the house, the car and a tiny little door in the concrete to get to us. A friend referred us to Storm Shelters OKC and we were able to get our install done without much fuss.

We installed the shelter in 2013. We’ve had several storms since then. The worst was on May 20th, of course. Our house wasn’t destroyed like some in the area, but it did suffer massive damage. We had to move out and into another location for about two months while the city repaired electrical lines, sewer and water lines and our contractors repaired the damage to our roof, windows and walls. (One of the bedroom walls had been damaged when a tree was slammed into it. An entire tree!)

Lucky for us we were able to install the shelter without assistance. However, there are a lot of folks out there who can’t afford to put the shelter in without it. For more information on the state grant, click here: SoonerSafe Rebate Program. You’ll have to fill out a form to enter the drawing. If you are selected, the state of Oklahoma will help you pay for your storm shelter.

There are other rebate programs out there as well, depending on the town you live in. Oklahoma City has a saferoom rebate program funded by the red cross. You can find more information about that here: OKC Saferoom Rebate Program.

If you come across any others that are worth mentioning, please send me a link via the contact me form!

Welcome to my blog

My name is Kristin. I live in Oklahoma, land of the tornadoes! I survived the May 20th tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma.

I am a history major at University of Central Oklahoma. One of my classes requires that I create and update a blog on something uniquely Oklahoman. For that purpose, I have elected to explore the history of tornadoes in Oklahoma culture and politics. I will be sharing my own stories, as well as the stories I collect from people on how the weather here in Oklahoma has affected us as a society, personally and technology-wise.

I will also be sharing other facets of Oklahoma culture, such as recipes, historical information and a bit of personal blogging, I am sure!

If you would like to see your story annotated here, please feel free to contact me via the contact me form.