Even With Donated Tanks, Spavinaw Struggles To Make Storm Shelter Reality

Thursday, March 27th 2014, 6:12 pm
By: Craig Day

With severe storm season here, a city that was hit hard by a tornado last year is working to keep people safe in the future.

But in a small town with limited resources, it's a tough task.

In 2013, Spavinaw took a direct hit from a tornado, which damaged 30 homes.

Since then, city leaders have worked to improve safety. But in a town of 410 people, with a small annual budget, it's a slow process.

"Trying to get prepared and had trouble you know finding donations to get donations or find the money to finish these tanks and get them ready," Spavinaw Mayor Jim Winn said.

The town got two giant 20,000-pound server cooling tanks donated by Google to repurpose into storm shelters, capable of holding 80 people each.

09/04/2014 Related Story: Internet Giant Donates Huge Tanks To Shelter Tiny Oklahoma Town

But now with the weather getting more threatening, the shelters aren't ready yet.

"When are we going to get something done?" Winn said. "And I say when we get the money and get the work to complete it, Get the people to do it."

The town is getting $10,000 from the Cherokee nation to help with the project.

About $6,000 of funds reimbursed by the state to the city of Pryor for cleanup in Spavinaw is also set aside for the project.

But that still leaves Spavinaw $4,000 shy of finishing the project. Not a lot of money, but a tough hurdle for the small community with very little tax base.

"We just barely keep our head above water as it is," Winn said.

City leaders hope businesses or skilled workers like an electrician will step up to help.

Doors still need to be installed, concrete will need to be poured inside the structures and outside to make the shelters handicapped-accessible.

"It's just peace of mind to have some place to go," Winn said.

The goal is to finish the project by the end of April so people can be protected for at least part of this year's storm season.

The best-case scenario would be to open the shelters on the one-year anniversary of the tornado, which is April 17.