New storm shelters are now open in a Green Country town already hit hard by a tornado, and they’re some of the most unique ones in the entire state.
Hard work and fundraising is now paying off in Spavinaw with those new shelters, which can nearly fit the entire town.
When the weather is threatening, people can get to safety inside the two massive tanks.
The tanks are about 30 feet long and 7 feet wide. About 150 people can fit in each.
For a town of about 400, the mayor says the shelters will save lives.
Just in time for the first threat of this severe storm season, Spavinaw’s unique new storm shelters are finally open.
It’s a relief for people in the town, since a tornado hit there just five years ago.
“Have to go back to 2013. We had the first tornado and it took out quite a bit of the town,” said mayor Jim Winn.
The tornado damaged more than 30 homes, peeled the roof off the school building, and left many people uneasy.
Google donated two 20,000-pound cooling tanks, which the town re-purposed into shelters.
It’s taken a while to raise enough money to convert them, but the shelters are now open.
“The storm shelters are beneficial to me because the citizens of Spavinaw can get to safety when needed and as quickly as possible,” declared Spavinaw Chief of Police Brian Walters.
The tanks are a quarter inch of steel, have FEMA certified doors on the outside, along with a concrete structure, and a handicapped accessible ramp.
Mayor Winn says the shelters are a necessity.
“It’s very important for everybody,” said Winn. “It feels good, at least we’ve got a safe place for our residents.”
Winn says right now the shelters have battery powered lights and vents, but the town hopes to eventually run electricity to the shelters and make more improvements.
“We like to put some benches in, but we’re going to need to raise some more money or something before we can put some benches in them,” stated Winn.
As the raise more money, they also hope to raise awareness that the shelters are open and ready.
The shelters are located right next to the baseball field. Spavinaw police officers will even give people rides to the shelter if they don’t have a way to get there.