Tulsan's storm shelter fixed thanks to help from News on Six viewers

Tuesday, October 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A story of generosity, as several groups joins together to help an elderly couple in need. News on Six consumer reporter Diane White has their story a special "In Your Corner" follow-up.

It's a tricky job. Removing an underground storm shelter. It takes time, determination, and a hardworking backhoe operator. All the while, homeowner Jack Swope watches through the window. "Well I'm just absolutely overwhelmed. I don't know what to say.” He and his wife rely on a wheelchair and a walker to get around.

Nearly 18 months ago, they hired a company called Storm King to build a shelter - with a ramp. "The shelter has probably got at least 2 foot of water at the door." Several months and $9,000 later - they had a flooded shelter with shoddy framework. "It's nothing more than a place for these folks to go and drown during the storm." A family friend stepped in and called Consumer Six. We tracked down Storm King's owner - Michael Gordon. He promised to fix it - but never showed up. Jack Swope: "I wish they'd come and tear the thing out and fill in the holes."

Nine months later - a wish come true. Thanks in part to this man. Steve Boatman, SSI Incorporated: "The vice president of our company - he saw it in your report. The next day we got together and knew we had to do something." It began a chain of generosity - built by SSI Incorporated and Project Impact. Several groups donated time and resources. Boatman, "Every time you see a cause come on TV - somebody's there to help out as much as they can and this has just been a great cause. These people really needed some help - it's been a great effort."

Now when there's a storm the Swopes will no longer have to come down a ramp - all they'll have to do is move into the garage. That's where Twister Pit installed a new storm shelter last month. "We don't even have to go outside at all - just right out the door into the garage - and that's it - it couldn't be any better for us." "It just makes you feel good that we were able to come out and do this for them. It's been a great project." Jack Swope, "I'm just so thankful." Thankful that the kindness of strangers is providing shelter from the storm.

Late Monday, workers finally got the old shelter out of the ground and cleaned up the mess. Volunteers will re-sod the yard this Saturday. Several groups worked on the project. SSI Incorporated, Tulsa's Project Impact, the National Storm Shelter Association, James & Company Construction and members of Trinity Presbyterian Church.