Oklahoma Tornado: Weokie Staff Also Rode Out Storm in Vault
Brent Taylor, president/CEO of the $892 million Weokie Credit Union, said the credit union’s branch in Moore, Okla., sustained no damage and its employees escaped harm by gathering in the branch’s vault when a killer tornado at least half-mile wide with 200 mph winds ripped through the Oklahoma City southern suburb Monday afternoon
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Taylor also said an Oklahoma Educators Credit Union branch also was not destroyed. However, the Tinker Federal Credit Union Moore branch was obliterated and its vault that protected TFCU employees from harm was the only thing left standing in the violent storm’s aftermath, he said.
John Cassidy, president/CEO of the Moore-based Credit Union Services Center, said his facility was not damaged and its employees were not harmed. The center remains closed, however, because of no power.
The tornado stuck about a mile or so south of the center, said John Cassidy, president/CEO of the Credit Union Services Centers, which manages Oklahoma’s shared branching network. He said CU members can access cash at other nearby ATMs and branches that are operating.
“Our employees took shelter in the branch. When the storm passed the employees went home and closed that particular branch for the day,” Cassidy said in an interview Tuesday. “There were no injuries and no property damage. Conceivably, when the power is back we can hopefully get our operations up and running. But given what happened yesterday, it’s an open question how quickly it’s going to take to get the power up and running.”
Taylor said the Weokie CU branch was about a quarter mile from the tornado’s path of destruction.
“The branch has minor debris on it and it’s dirty, but there is no structural damage,” said Taylor in an interview Tuesday morning. “Our (employee) team is fine. They were in the vault and they are fine. At this point in time, we don’t have access to the facility or the area and there is no power, so it remains closed at this time.”
There were about 10 employees working in the branch when the tornado approached.
“They followed our procedures related to storm events and they rode out the tornado inside the vault,” he said.
Taylor also said he received reports from his branch employees that the Tinker FCU branch, which is less than a tenth of a mile from the Weokie CU branch, was obliterated by the tornado. Taylor said Weokie employees witnessed the tornado’s destruction after they walked out of the vault and closed the branch.
“The (Tinker FCU) branch was in the path of the (tornado’s) destruction and all that was remaining was the vault,” Taylor said. The Tinker FCU branch is about 500 feet east from the Moore Medical Center that was also hit by the twister. Patients have been evacuated.
TFCU posted a statement on its website that said the branch sustained “considerable damage” and that all of its employees at the branch escaped into the vault. Employees were released from the vault with the assistance of first responders, according to the statement.
The credit union said all personal safe deposit boxes are secure. In addition to the Moore location, the Tinker FCU’s Northeast Oklahoma City branch also is closed until power can be restored. All other Tinker FCU locations are open.
“We were really fortunate. We don’t have anybody from (Weokie CU) that we are aware of who lost family members or had significant damage to their properties,” Taylor said. “We obviously have people having trouble reaching their homes at this time and will have some damage to correct, but we were spared the worst of it. “
Michael Kloiber, president/CEO of the $3 billion Tinker FCU, and Cindy White, president/CEO of the $106 million Oklahoma Educators CU, were unavailable for comment Tuesday morning.