NORMAN — For Derrick, a resident at Bridges, knowing that a safe room is close to his apartment is a relief — so much of a relief, that the Norman High School graduate said he sleeps better at night knowing he’s safe if a tornado threatens the area.
Derrick is a transplant to Norman from Gary, Ind. Although he admits he’s never been in a tornado, residing here since September, Derrick knows the severity these types of storms can have on a community.
“Whenever I see a dark cloud, I just make sure I’m close to Bridges,” Derrick said. “When people tell me that it can happen anywhere, they are unpredictable, I’m just like, well, if something unpredictable can wipe out a city and can happen at any moment, why wouldn’t you be scared?
“It really does give me a place to know where I should be headed or know where I should be at when its bad outside. So if it starts raining or it starts storming, then I know to stay close to Bridges and stay home so I can come right to the storm shelter.”
The safe room at Bridges, a housing community for students who live alone due to a family crisis — including the death of a parent, parental incarceration or homelessness, was recently installed thanks to the help of Sooner Rotary, Lions Club, First Christian and a number of individuals.
“I knew that is was something that we had to do. It was absolutely essential, so we talked to different groups,” Bridges Executive Director Debra Krittenbrink said. “I have seen the relief from a number of our students in adding that safe room. Randy Laffoon really helped us with it and tons of other people.
“It really has made a huge difference in knowing it was there. Until I saw how relieved they were, I didn’t know how anxious they were. One time the kids were so scared, they came to my house and went to my basement.”