NORMAN — Until an EF-5 tornado carved a path through the economic core of Moore on Monday, sales tax generated more than $2 million each month. In addition to damages, closed roads and utility outages forced many businesses to shut their doors.
Now, major retailers along the path of the storm are open for business.
“I want to encourage our citizens to shop at our local shops,” Moore Economic Development Director Diedre Ebrey said Friday.
Dicks Sporting Goods, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, CVS and Walgreens are open.
Moore’s nearly $90 million annual operating budget for the city, public works and economic development funds depends on sales tax for 19 percent of its revenue.
Growth had been strong — Moore experienced over 5 percent increases in sales tax collections over the past couple of years as new businesses came to town.
Many of the newest businesses, including the IMAX portion of the Warren Theatre, Hollie’s Flatiron Steakhouse, Dicks and Target were affected by the tornado.
Anyone who wants to donate directly to the city may do so online at cityofmoore.com, Ebrey said. Donate buttons are available to support the general disaster, animal welfare or safety personnel funds.
Volunteer and other donation opportunities and relief information is available at moore.recovers.org.
“I want you to know how appreciative we are, how overwhelmed we are, how full of hope and despair all at once,” Ebrey said.
Ebrey and ONG spokesperson Cherokee Ballard both said employees with homes destroyed showed up for work because they were needed in the recovery effort.
At Friday’s noon press conference at Moore City Hall, Ballard said 240 homes have restored ONG service with 100 more anticipated by end of day.
She said 30 ONG employees are working the affected area with contractors.
“We will work with affected customers on their bills,” Ballard said.
Oklahoma City Postmaster James Bryant said the Moore Post Office should open within 120 days. In the meantime, postal authorities are coordinating alternative pick up sites.
Including customers, 23 people were inside the Moore Post Office on the I-35 Service Road when the tornado hit.
“The station manager was very proactive with watching the weather,” Bryant said. “He brought all the employees and customers into the tornado safe area. Luckily, no one was injured.”
Bryant said the Moore Postmaster looked out windows to the west and east after the tornado. Everything in both directions was gone. The post office is located east of Moore Medical Center.
Insurance Commissioner John Doak said people affected by the tornadoes on May 19 and 20 who have not been able to make insurance payments do not need to worry that they will be canceled.
“Insurance policies that were in effect will remain in effect while numerous families go through the recovery process,” Doak said.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department requires licensed public adjusters in affected counties to show licenses before entering into contracts. If approached by an adjuster without adequate proof of license, call the OID Anti-Fraud Unit at (800) 522-0071.
“We are coordinating with other states’ anti-fraud units,” Doak said.
Doak also put out a call for retired insurance agents who do not have an insurance license to volunteer to help.
“We’re going to come out with some very innovative things and help consumers,” he said.
City permits are required for general contractors, roofers and the trades, said Moore Community Development Director Elizabeth Jones.
“Beginning Tuesday we will be issuing contractor credentials,” she said.
Permits are not needed for debris removal or demolition.
“We are encouraging you, if you have already gone through debris, to push the debris out to the street and the right of way,” said Jones. “We do have a contractor that will begin pick up of the debris removal. We will make several passes through the area.”