Tornado Death Prompts New Shelter Ordinance In Chickasha Mobile Home Parks

Tuesday, September 6th 2011, 10:39 pm
By: News 9

Dana Hertneky, News 9

CHICKASHA, Oklahoma -- A tragic tornado death prompts one Oklahoma town to change the law when it comes to mobile home parks and storm shelters.

City Council members in Chickasha voted Tuesday evening on a new ordinance that would mandate mobile home parks to have a storm shelter or at least tell residents there isn't one.

Family of the one woman who died in the Chickasha tornado says such a law may have saved their daughter's life.

As a tornado tore through Chickasha May 24, Loren Short was walking out her front door.

"She took that first step out and it happened so fast," Short's mother Tammy said back in May.

Loren's family says they thought they were buying a mobile home near a storm shelter. But as the tornado was bearing down, they found out it was a storage shed. They believe the precious minutes it took them to regroup cost them Loren's life.

"There was a lot of confusion out there," said Stewart Fairburn, Chickasha city manager.

Council members voted unanimously for the law that puts strict requirements on mobile home parks when it comes to storm shelters.

"Mobile home parks need to have an emergency plan for tornados to tell their residents whether or not they have one and especially if they do not have one," Fairburn said.

Loren's family says they are pleased the city council took action and hope it prevents anyone from having to go through what they did.

Some state lawmakers have been trying for the past couple years to pass similar statewide legislation that would require mobile home parks to have storm shelters.

They have faced opposition, however, from some who say it would cost too much and shelter owners who worry they would be liable if the shelter fails to protect those using it.

Results from a legislative study looking into those liability and cost issues will be presented at the end of this month.