(L to R) Cherokee Nation Marshal Service Capt. Scott Craig, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Dry Creek Community representatives Richard Holmes, Janey Holmes, Jim Robbins, Dave Holmes, Mary McCoy and Charlie McCoy, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Welling Fire Department representative Martin Webb, Management Resources Deputy Executive Director David Moore, Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick and Sequoyah Schools Superintendent Leroy Qualls.
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — The Cherokee Nation used $77,375 from the tribe’s special projects budget to fund the installation of five community storm shelters in southern Cherokee County.
The 40 feet by 8 feet storm shelters are being placed at the Cherokee Immersion Charter School, Keys Fire Department, Woodall Fire Department, Dry Creek Community Building and Tailholt Fire Department.
“This is an investment that will potentially save lives, and that can’t be quantified, especially when we are dealing with families and children in life-threatening situations,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden. “We have a responsibility to make these kinds of community investments that improve the lives of Cherokee families. By partnering with these communities, we will expand the safety net for Cherokees and non-Cherokees as well. That’s important for our long-term success in the region.”
The shelters will hold up to 100 people each.
“After witnessing the Moore and Joplin tornadoes that tore through our surrounding homelands destroying homes, schools and lives, it’s a discomforting feeling for people to not know where to go in case of a dangerous storm,” said Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick, of Tahlequah. “I wanted to give our rural communities and Cherokee Immersion School some relief that they don’t have to sit in their home or school and take a gamble at risking their life during a dangerous storm. These storm shelters will be a safe haven for our kids and communities for years to come.”
Donations made from the Cherokee Nation’s special projects fund are selected by Tribal Council and Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s office and allow the tribe to partner with communities and organizations on projects that benefit both Cherokee Nation citizens and non-Cherokees alike.
Welling Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Martin Webb expects the community storm shelter to be a major asset for his community, where one of the five shelters is being placed at the fire department’s Tailholt station.
“Receiving this storm shelter means a lot for the community, because right now there’s nothing out there. There are a few older houses that have cellars and storm shelters, but nothing of this magnitude for the community where all can come and get into it,” Webb said. “I want to thank the tribe for everything they have done to help out our community. It’s going to be a great asset to us.”
All five shelters are expected to be complete by the end of the year.