OKC Firefighters Help Girl in Wheelchair Build Storm Shelter Lift

Tuesday, May 3rd 2016, 3:42 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

The Gomez family put in a storm shelter after they saw the destruction while volunteering after the Moore 2013 tornado. But as their 10-year-old granddaughter, Bri, who is in a wheelchair, started getting older, getting her in that shelter became more difficult. 

In the past whenever storms started moving in Bri Johnson started getting more and more worried. 

“If I didn’t know where it was and I didn’t know it passed over us I would stay up to like probably 12,” said Johnson.

And lately, so did her grandparents.

“Because she’s not weight bearing, which means she can’t stand on her own, and she has two rods in her spine, you can’t throw her over her shoulder and bring her down. So we were just worried,” said Walkidia Gomez, Bri’s grandmother.

That's where a group of Oklahoma City firefighters comes in. The Gomez family first met them when they visited the firehouse last week looking for suggestions.

But something about Bri made these firefighters want to do more. So on Friday, on their day off and on their own dime, the firefighters showed up at the family’s house and went to work building a wench that would lower Bri into the shelter.

A half a day's work and big thank you meal later, the contraption works perfectly. Bri can wear a harness when severe weather threatens and if the time comes to take shelter her grandparents will use the remote to quickly lower her down.

“I’d like to give a really big thanks to them,” said Bri on Tuesday.

The family hopes they never have to use the lift. But Bri says she already does.

“Now I know if I go to sleep I’ll be safe and I have that lift in there that will get me down there really quick.”