To say that Oklahomans are no strangers to tornadoes is an understatement, especially those who live in the Oklahoma City suburb of Bridge Creek.
On May 6, 2015, several tornadoes hit the state of Oklahoma. An EF3 tornado carved through Bridge Creek; leaving destruction in its path. Bob Stewart, his wife, mother and two grandchildren piled into their storm shelter to stay safe from the tornadoes.
Stewart’s property fared better this year than it did when a much more powerful EF5 tornado hit in 1999.
“The tornado tore the roof off the house in ’99,” Stewart told the American Red Cross caseworkers who visited with him. “This time the roof is damaged, but we were able to cover it with a tarp. The gate needs to be fixed and I’ll repair the fence, but we’re better off than the people down the street.”
Red Cross volunteers Bob Deffenbaugh, Shelley Smedley and Dr. John Ruffing met Stewart as they went through the community to make sure residents were aware of what resources (Red Cross and others) were available to them.
“Thanks, ya’ll,” Stewart called as the volunteers made their way up Sooner Road toward more damaged homes.
A large beam from an outdoor sitting area put a hole in Christine James’ roof. But, despite losing much of the interior of her home in the storm, James said she’s lucky because the damage could have been worse. James lives behind her sister who had to rebuild in 1999. Their next door neighbors weren’t as “lucky.”
The tornado destroyed the back of their home. James told Red Cross volunteers that the neighbors had to rebuild that home after 1999 and that it will likely have to be torn down and rebuilt again.
Nevertheless, there is a sense of pride felt by all of residents affected. They are “Oklahoma Strong” like at least one destroyed home had painted on a plywood covered window.
Tammy Glasgow moved into her home on Barrington Road from Moore, only 11 months before the May tornado hit. Glasgow is a teacher at the now infamous Briarwood Elementary School. The school took a direct hit by an EF5 tornado in 2013 and Glasgow and her son were inside at the time. Glasgow and her family moved to Bridge Creek to get away from the destruction in Moore and to start over.
The May 6 tornado destroyed her husband’s shop in the back of house, blew out the dining room window and sucked most of the living room interior out of the home. She didn’t know the history of her Bridge Creek neighborhood before she moved in.
“I didn’t know about the ’99 tornado,” she told Smedley. “But, we’ll be ok. We’ll fix the damage and will stay. This is home now.”
“I really admire the people here,” Smedley, who is from Kaysville, Utah said. “They just keep rebuilding; keep picking up the pieces. It’s that good Oklahoma spirit. Just like that home says; Oklahoma strong.”