When people relocate to Tulsa Oklahoma, often the first question they ask is, “where do you go when a tornado comes?” The truthful answer to that is that we often go to our front porch with our cameras or simply watch it on the news. However, at least once in the last ten years, my husband, pups and I took refuge in our basement.
Many, but not all, homes in midtown Tulsa are built with basements. If a basement is not available, it is suggested that you locate in a center room of your home – preferably one with plumbing and no windows. Grab a mattress to cover yourself from possible flying debris.
Another option is to add a certified tornado shelter or safe room. There are above-ground options available – usually bolted to cement flooring in the garage or sometimes built in to closets in the home interior. There is a below ground option usually installed below the garage floor. In the Tulsa area, contact FamilySAFE Shelters, 918-443-SAFE (7233).
I found an interesting web site where you can search for the tornado risk level by zip code. I was shocked to see that MY zip code was rated a high risk level, but they are calculating risk from the destruction path that occurred within 30 miles of a location. Check out the web site for some interesting statistics regarding Tulsa tornadoes.
The city of Tulsa does have a siren system to warn residents of tornadoes, but I’m not sure how seriously we take them – and in general, consider them a nuisance. In late March of this year, my stager Bernie and I were at 41st and Yale preparing a home for sale. My husband called from 21st & Riverside (6 miles away) to report that sirens were going off, but not to worry – the tornado was heading some direction away from us. Bernie and I never heard a siren and were generally clueless that any tornadic activity was nearby.
One night the weather got a little scary, because the winds were over 80mph. My husband and I took our pups to our interior dining room because we worried about tree limbs flying in to our television room – of which two sides are glass windows.
Several Tulsa radio and news stations offer “instant text alerts” on your mobile phone. For example, to subscribe to KRMG Storm Center Alerts, you simply text “WEATHER” to 95920. I think most of us utilize this or a similar service, although I usually mute my phone when they’re going off.
Most communities have public shelters available and in my area of midtown Tulsa, the Equality Center will welcome people and their pets for needed protection. But, if you don’t have time to travel, you will definitely want a second plan.
And, of course, you need a storm shelter supply kit. Highest priority of course is water. We use to take a radio, but mobile phones have replaced that. The one time that Demetrius and I did take shelter in our basement, I grabbed a sack and loaded it with water and cell phone chargers while he gathered up the pups. Other items you might keep in your shelter include pet and human food, blankets and pillows, flashlight with extra batteries and a first aid kit.
Tornadoes are destructive and can turn on a dime. There are areas that are more susceptible to tornadic activity than others. Historically, the Oklahoma City area (the suburb of Moore particularly) is hit much more often than Tulsa.
What if you do not have a basement? I didn’t have one in my home in Florence Park, but my neighbor across the street did. I had a key to her house and was welcome any time. Otherwise, purchasing an above or under-ground shelter is a good idea.
So, if you are relocating to the Tulsa area, welcome to our crazy weather. Will Rogers once said, “If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it’ll change.” We are likely to have spring one day and winter the next; we’ll be cooking our Thanksgiving turkey while wearing shorts and be barefoot; then donning our winter jackets for the Easter service. The only thing predictable about Oklahoma weather is that it is totally Unpredictable – often with a tornado mixed in.
If you are relocating to the Tulsa area or midtown Tulsa, I can help you find a home with a basement! 918-852-5036
Content written and published by Lori Cain.