The Norman Transcript

Business

October 8, 2013

Crossroads Services installs tornado safe room in Moore facility

(Continued)

MOORE —

The Crossroads Head Start facility is just four blocks away from the 7-Eleven that was destroyed in the May 20 tornado, killing three people.

The children, teachers and staff took shelter in an interior room to wait out the storm.

Vicknair, who is the education coordinator, and Moore Head Start Director Cari Dunkle monitored the weather and communicated with the outside while teachers entertained the children. Teachers told the children, who range in age from infants to age 4, that they were “camping out.”

Dunkle and Vicknair strapped the doors shut for added protection and when the storm was close, those doors were flopping, trying to open.

That’s a scary moment children at the Moore Head Start will not have to experience again — Crossroads has built a $98,000 tornado safe room with FEMA-approved, tornado-safe doors that triple lock.

However, the close call on May 20 is not the end of the story. When another tornado hit May 31, the center sustained $150,000 worth of damage.

“It took out a playground and our roof,” Winters said. “We were closed all summer.”

Fortunately, that storm hit late enough in the day and no one was at the facility. But Winters and her staff had had enough.

Winters said her committed thought was, “We’re going to fund the money to do a tornado shelter in Moore.”

Federal approval was required, meaning lots of hoops to jump through, but the U.S. Health and Human Services federal employees who represent the Head Start program for Region 6 were wonderful and helped Crossroads meet all the deadlines, Winters said.

Two years earlier, the agency had tried to build a shelter and had prepared plans so the project was shovel ready. But federal requirements had increased the proposed cost back and the money wasn’t available.

The new shelter has space for children and staff, but it is not a public shelter. Only children and Head Start teachers and staff can take shelter there.

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