A few years ago, executives of Oklahoma Steel and Wire installed tornado shelters throughout the Madill, Oklahoma, manufacturing plant owned by the family of cutters Kathleen and Ty Moore.
That decision made all the difference on Wednesday when an F-2 twister swept through the building, causing severe damage but not harming any of the 90 employees still onsite.
“Nobody was hurt. It’s all good,” said Kathleen Moore, who works in accounting for the family business. “Those buildings can be replaced. We know how to repair buildings. It will be fine.”
Moore expressed sadness at the death of an out-of-state truck driver outside the facility, one of two people killed in the storm. Another injured elsewhere in the city remained in critical condition in a hospital in Plano, Texas, said Donny Raley, the city’s emergency manager.
Another plant, J&I Manufacturing also took a direct hit. Seven homes were destroyed, though several others were impacted, Raley added.
Madill, located in south-central Oklahoma near the Red River, is about two hours south of Oklahoma City and two hours north of Dallas.
Madill Emergency Management reported the tornado on the ground at about 5 p.m. CDT, according to an incident memorandum.
Oklahoma Steel and Wire has occupied the building at that location since 1979, Moore said. Moore’s father, B.L. Moore, and his brother-in-law, Robert Lockridge, founded the company that year as a manufacturer of livestock panels. Over the course of four decades, the company has expanded to include product lines for agricultural and industrial markets.
Kathleen Moore has an Equi-Stat rider record of more than $651,000. Horses she’s owned have garnered $2.9 million, while those bred by her boast $1.2 million in cumulative earnings.
Ty Moore, Kathleen Moore’s nephew, also works at the plant as a welder. The earner of more than $1.2 million, according to Equi-Stat, was not onsite at the time the tornado hit.
Kathleen Moore said the city’s emergency warning sirens were activated eight to 10 minutes before the building was hit, giving those inside time to seek shelter.
“We were in the shelter,” she said. “When we went in, it was pretty light out, pretty quiet. We got into the shelter and it sounded like a freight train coming through. Loud. But you couldn’t hear any of the destruction … the tin being thrown around, things like that. Just a loud freight train.
“And then it was silence. It was a couple of minutes before the noise all went away.”
The family’s ranch, which houses Moore Cutting Horses and is about 10 miles from the area hit by the storm, was not affected, said Glynn Whitman, who works 2-year-olds there.
“Not even a drop of rain,” he said.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt stopped by the facility while touring the destruction in Madill on Thursday. He was there to show support and give encouragement.
“Two areas [of the building] will take some time to fix,” Kathleen Moore said, “but we hope to be back in some of them by next week and others as quick as we can.”
Shipping, she said, was scheduled to restart on Friday.
“You can smile,” is all Moore asked of her fellow cutters wanting to show support. “Our employees, we have a great group of people who work for us. They’re gung-ho to get started back. This is not going to stop us. No tears here to be shed.”