Oklahoma Storm Safety Deposit
They huddled together in the vault while the violent tornado was obliterating everything around them, including the 6,387-square-foot Moore, Okla., branch and the cars in the parking lot.
“I wasn’t there, but I know it was extremely loud [inside the vault], and I’m sure it was very scary,” said Matt Stratton, vice president of marketing for the $3 billion Tinker Federal Credit Union. “I don’t know yet if the branch was directly in the path of the tornado or on the edge of the path of tornado, but it essentially destroyed the branch and a lot of things around it.”
After the tornado passed, Stratton said first responders arrived very quickly at the scene, removed debris that was blocking the vault’s door and helped the people inside the vault push open the door.
The employees and members who had their cars destroyed by the tornado eventually found their way home, Stratton said. But the branch manager stayed at the vault until it could be locked up and secured.
Once access to the site is allowed by authorities, Stratton said, there will an extensive cleanup process and he expects TFCU will build a new branch at the site.
“I feel certain we will build a new branch there,” Stratton said. “It’s been a very successful location for us, a very popular branch amongst our members.”
Stratton said the tornado also destroyed the homes of four TFCU employees, and an additional 26 employees reported some damage to their homes.
As of last week, two dozen people have been confirmed killed in the tornado, which was declared an EF5– the top of the scale–by the National Weather Service and did at least $1 billion in damage on its 17-mile path.