Lawton_Skies were quiet on Friday, but this is Texoma's 'Fifth Season,' often bringing tornadoes, hail, and damaging winds. 7News meteorologists regularly advise viewers of coming storms, and often give safety tips. And, while it may not be too complicated to follow their tips if you live in a one-family house, it may be quite difficult if you live in an apartment. Experts advise apartment-dwellers to make friends with neighbors, and plan ahead.
Bellaire Apartments owner Dale Nomura relocated to Lawton from California where the weather is usually mild. She says after he moved to Oklahoma, all it took was one bout of severe weather for her family to come up with a plan.
Imagine this: Tornado sirens sound, you're in the path of an oncoming tornado - but, you live on the upper floor of an apartment building. You run downstairs to your neighbor's apartment, but they're not home - now what?
Nomura faced a similar situation when she moved to Lawton. "We went into the bathroom and got into the bathtub on the second floor - even though we kind of knew we should have gone downstairs," she said. She says that experience convinced her she should make a plan - one for each resident. "We've put addresses of local places to go, and Google maps of how to get to them," she said.
She says that each time a tenant moves into the complex, he or she gets a packet of information. Just over a week ago, Southwest Oklahoma was hit with severe thunderstorms, and the sirens sounded. Resident Aron Thomas - along with other residents - gathered in the 1,200 square-foot laundry room on the lower level. "I wouldn't recommend staying upstairs at any cost," said Thomas. "As soon as they blow that horn, I'm leaving."
Thomas says he has lived in "Tornado Alley" all of his life. "I've been in a couple tornadoes, and there after the fact," he said. "This is not anything you don't want to be prepared for." Nomura says a lot of folks living in Lawton come from out of state - just as she did - and are not prepared. "We were too flipped out, so that's why we want people to be prepared ahead of time," she said.