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Parents’ Club: The roof’s gone, but the door’s open

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The Parents’ Club has served the McAlester area since 1994 — but now it needs some help of its own.

A suspected microburst that slammed McAlester on Tuesday evening ripped the roof off The Parents’ Club, Inc. building at 111 S. Main St. as the storm hammered the city.

Parents’ Club Volunteer CEO Barbara Countz and Parents’ Club Manager Janet Daniels went to the building Tuesday night, checking the damage in the storm’s aftermath.

“We were here after the lights went out,” Daniels said. They wanted to make sure there were no injuries at the site and were relieved when they did not find any.

However, they saw the extensive damage to the building’s metal roof — most of which lay in a crumpled heap behind the structure.

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“The wind caught it and blew it into the alley,” Daniels said.

She said the nonprofit organization has insurance on the building, but she added there is a substantial deductible.

That — and the cleanup — are two of the reasons the nonprofit organization needs help.

“We need lots of donations and volunteers,” Countz said.

Daniels said anyone who wants to offer assistance can contact her at 918-617-3190.

The Parents’ Club is marking a milestone at its current address.

“We’ve been here 25 years this month,” said Daniels.

She said The Parents’ Club started when Countz was a counselor at McAlester Public Schools and saw a need for a community program.

A counseling office opened, a thrift store included, and soon, The Parents’ Club was geared up and going strong.

The Parents’ Club offers assistance to individuals, groups and organizations in McAlester and the surrounding area.

“We help the Red Cross, the hospital, foster care, churches,” Daniels said.

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“We never turn anyone away,” said Countz.

Despite the Tuesday storm, The Parents’ Club opened Wednesday, with shoppers pushing carts up and down the aisles, checking out the thrift store wares.

Although the metal roof was torn from the building, Daniels said it had covered the original roof, which mostly remained in place.

Parents’ Club personnel are hoping it will keep the rain out until the metal roof is replaced.

“We’re going to stay here — we’re not going to leave,” Daniels said.

“God opened this place,” she said, and nothing’s going to put it down.

“Our faith is stronger than that.”

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KEVIN HARVISON | Clean up continues on Bob Loftis Furniture store as crews remove debris from the building Wednesday morning.

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KEVIN HARVISON | Clean up continues on Bob Loftis Furniture store as crews remove debris from the building Wednesday morning.

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‘We lost the roof’

Bob Loftis Furniture was among the buildings to suffer damage from the Tuesday storms with the storefront being blown in and the sign ripped apart.

Bemac Supply also had severe damage that the store’s owner said would be hard to determine the total value of until after getting estimates.

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“We lost the roof on the entire building,” said Bemac Supply owner Fred Ettner.

On top of the building being damaged, water damage from rain occurred to some products that were stored in the building.

Ettner said his employees will continue to clean up the damage and will find additional space to put merchandise while repairs are done.

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The National Weather Service in Tulsa issued a severe thunderstorm warning at 8:14 p.m. Tuesday for parts of Pittsburg County for 60 mph winds and quarter-sized hail.

Ray Sondag, a meteorologist with NWS, said McAlester likely received the damage from a downburst or a microburst — which occur when a storm collapses and cold air rushes downward from the storm before hitting the ground and spreading out in all directions.

“It probably produced winds around 70 mph or so as it collapsed,” Sondag said.

He said this type of event happens more during the summer months with popup storms similar to the one that occurred Tuesday.

The forecast for the rest of the week shows a 20% chance of thunderstorms during the day on Thursday before rising to 40% Thursday night. A 60% chance of storms is currently forecast for Friday with a 40% chance Friday night. Saturday holds a 50% chance of thunderstorms with Saturday night through Monday looking clear per the latest forecast.

Family hears storm damage

Christina Turcotte said she and her son, Quinton Wilson, heard something unusual while inside their home when the suspected microburst hit McAlester on Tuesday evening.

“When the storm was hitting, I heard a sizzling noise,” she said.

When another of her sons, Isaiah James Beard arrived later that evening, he found the source of the unusual sound.

He called her outside, where a tree had been toppled over by the storm, hitting the side of the house on the 300 block of North Fifth Street.

“The (electrical) meter box was knocked off the side of the house,” she said.

Turcotte called an electrician on Wednesday and with the meter attached to the residence once more, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma was getting power restored at the residence.

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KEVIN HARVISON | A tree lays in the front yard of a home at 804 East Comanche Avenue after a storm blew through McAlester Tuesday night.

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KEVIN HARVISON | A storage building for Humphry Plumbing is pictured after a storm destoyed the building that sit near the corner of Chickasaw Avenue and Main Street in McAlester.

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