Emergency Crews Warn Oklahomans Against Sheltering In Businesses

Thursday, March 26th 2015, 11:19 pm
By: News On 6

Storms developed fast Wednesday, and many didn't have time to think about where to seek shelter.

People on highways and in mobile homes ran to local businesses, looking for safety, but those stores warn against that.

Some people at the mobile home park in Sand Springs left there to find better shelter; a wise move, but emergency managers and store owners warn against going to stores like Walmart and QuikTrip when there's the threat of a tornado.

A tornado closed in on Tulsa County, and people sought shelter. Osage SkyNews 6 HD captured traffic on highways, people trying to escape the storms.

3/26/2015 Related Story: Osage SkyNews 6 HD Flies Over Sand Springs Tornado Damage

On the ground, Earl Ruggles left his Sand Springs mobile home to go to Walmart for shelter.

"We heard the sirens and I just packed my kids up, and my wife and mother-in-law and brother-in-law and we left," he said.

Several people, including a Tulsa County deputy, sought shelter at Walmart or QuikTrip.

A Walmart spokesperson said Walmart will never lock its doors, but it's not a safe storm shelter.

A QuikTrip spokesperson said, when a tornado warning is issued, everyone there is invited inside for shelter. QuikTrip then locks its doors, and does not open them until the storm is over.

Major Shannon Clark, with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, says Oklahomans need to know where they'll seek shelter before a storm hits.

"They're not required to maintain a safe house for people to take refuge from severe weather. But if you can get in there in time, that's great, but again, it's a tin building. You're not going to have that much safety," he said.

Many people living in the Sand Springs mobile home park said they would've gone to a stronger shelter, but the storm developed so quickly.

3/26/2015 Related Story: Tour of Sand Springs Mobile Home Park Shows Massive Tornado Damage

People living in one over there ran across the street to a mobile home, thinking it might be stronger. Fortunately, in this case, it was. They all survived.

“God just was looking over our family because every one of us lost our homes. I don't know how we'll ever recover," Linda Elmore said.

Debbie Davis lost her mobile home. She rode out the storm at her daughter's house in Owasso. She now wants all mobile home parks to get storm shelters.

"There should be one for the community," she said.

If you get caught in your car during a tornado, the best advice is still to lie in a ditch and not be in your car.

Unfortunately, there's no good answer, but knowing where you will seek shelter and being accountable for your own safety is your best chance at survival.