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Atoka church gets storm shelter in response to tornado damage

By: Allison Harris Email
By: Allison Harris Email

ATOKA, OKLAHOMA -- It's been almost two years since the Tushka EF-3 tornado. Many in Atoka County are still overcoming the destruction of that April day.

"We ask these things in Jesus name..."

Prayers of gratitude were uplifted at Hillcrest Baptist Church today. The church was hit hard by the tornado and just re-opened its doors in January.

Today, the church broke ground on this storm shelter.

"We knew that we had to all pull together," Alice Foran said.

"Well I went back and told my staff, we're going to do this, and they looked back at me with big eyes, but they were all trained to do this, they all had loving hearts," LaQuita Thornley said.

Alice Foran and LaQuita Thornley assisted FEMA by helping victims apply for funding.

They created a board that helped appropriate funds to victims, then took bids to build storm shelters, like this one.

This storm shelter is just one of six being put in across Atoka County. This one here at Hillcrest Baptist can hold about twenty people.

Foran also helped coordinate celebrity involvement in the relief efforts. She got a call from Reba McIntyre after the tornado hit.

"And she said, 'Alice, we've got to, we can pitch in. We can make a difference back here,'" Foran said.

That sparked this benefit concert, featuring big names like Reba, Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson.

Hillcrest church members were touched by the support.

"People rally together because of the Lord and we got our church back," Cecil Lewis said.

Cecil Lewis built these cabinets in 1978. This room was destroyed by the tornado, but the cabinets and this cross remained in tact.

"We had a big loss here, but it's back, back together now," Lewis said.


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