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Better to be safe than sorry in Tornado Shelter your loved ones with help fro A


tornado is bearing down on your home. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You don’t have time to seek a different shelter. Your only option is to remain in your home and weather the storm.


You grab couch cushions, pillows and blankets and head for a bathroom located away from the southwest corner of the house. A bathtub will serve as your storm shelter while you repeatedly remind yourself that this is exactly what the experts say to do when a tornado is nearby.


This time something is different. You can feel it. This storm isn’t like all the others. This one has your home squarely in its sights.


The approaching storm intensifies. The noise is terrifying. It sounds like all hell is breaking loose outside. You feel the house begin to shake. The roof overhead sounds like it is being peeled away by a force you never thought possible.


Tornado Alley


Nearly three years ago, on May 22, 2011, an explosive outbreak of spring storms slammed the region. The same evening that produced several damaging twisters in northeast Oklahoma, the city of Joplin, Missouri, was struck by a dev- astating EF-5 category tornado that left 161 people dead and 900 more injured. About 8,400 houses; 18,000 cars; and 450 businesses were flattened or completely blown away across the southern part of the city. The track of the tornado was nearly a mile wide and more than 22 miles long.


By the end of May 2011 there had been nearly 1,000 torna- does confirmed in the United States. These tornadoes com- bined to claim 519 lives, contributing to the deadliest year for tornadoes in the U.S. since 1936.


Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative member and Tulsa businessman Mike Tidwell remembers well the devastation left by the 2011 outbreak.


“Houses were destroyed and trees were ripped from the ground a mile from our home on Grand Lake,” said Tidwell. “You could see the path the tornado took through these rural areas. There was destruction everywhere. It was just mind-boggling. To see it on television is one thing, but to see it in person is sobering.”


Added Tidwell: “We went up to Joplin and saw unbelievable devastation. What happened there was just terrible. There are really no words to describe how bad it was. It looked like there were a few people who were able to protect them- selves with storm shelters, but everyone else just did the best they could. You don’t realize how vulnerable you are until something like this happens.”


The tornado outbreak of 2011 inspired Tidwell to offer a line of defense against such forces of nature. As owner of Tulsa-based Southern Sheet Metal Works, he knew he had the resources at his disposal to help homeowners protect themselves.


Southern Sheet Metal Works is a fourth-generation fami- ly-owned business with a 35,000 square foot manufacturing facility located in the Pearl District of downtown Tulsa. The company, known originally as Southern Cornice Works, was founded in 1904 by Mike’s grandfather, J. W. Tidwell, and was once located at the corner of 2nd Street and Boulder in Tulsa.


Established during the Oklahoma oil boom to supply the many demands of the surrounding oil fields, the company has built a reputation as one of the oldest and most respect- ed sheet metal fabricators in the state. When Mike took over as president of the company in 1974, he was proud to carry on a tradition that had been established by the two gener- ations before him. He now works alongside son David and wife Sherrie among the company’s 25 employees.


4 - Northeast Connection


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