Samaritan’s Purse will be helping tornado victims return home and keeping them safe from the next storm
After devastating tornadoes ripped through central Oklahoma in May last year, Samaritan’s Purse responded immediately. We helped storm victims by clearing debris, cutting trees, tarping roofs, and praying with homeowners.
Now we are transitioning to a rebuilding phase to help many Oklahomans have a better future on a firmer foundation with new or repaired homes.
We plan to build six homes from the ground up while also repairing other severely damaged houses. In addition, Samaritan’s Purse will also be installing underground storm shelters in 50 homes in Norman, located between the two locations Samaritan’s Purse initially responded to after the disaster: Moore and Shawnee.
Michael Todd, the program manager overseeing the rebuild, said these underground shelters are a first for Samaritan’s Purse.
Samaritan’s Purse always includes a storm shelter in all the homes rebuilt after a tornado. The safe room doubles as the bathroom and laundry room. The door is made of nearly 250 pounds of steel and the entire room can withstand between 150 and 200 mph winds.
However, due to the large amount of homes that are in need of storm shelters in the tornado-prone area and do not necessarily need to be rebuilt, we are starting a pilot program where we will install underground shelters that can hold up to eight people.
Since December, our staff has been setting up the rebuild site in Norman. Students from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas, have also been assisting in preparing the site to get ready for teams of volunteers.
Starting in February, we will begin building two houses at a time. The entire rebuild project in Oklahoma is anticipated to be completed within the year.
“We’re excited to get started here in Oklahoma,” Michael said. “The whole community is very receptive to us coming back.”