Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

November 20, 2013

Warren Theatre larger than life survivor of storm

MOORE — The sirens went off in Moore around 2:30 p.m., Pat Murphy, general manager of Warren Theatre remembered.

“We got everybody out of the theaters and put them into the hallways,” Murphy said.

Theater records indicated 200 tickets had been sold that afternoon. Murphy said everybody was “well aware” that the tornado was headed toward the theater, but the staff also was aware that the building is strong.

“It’s built like a bunker,” he said. “I felt safe because of this building.”

When the tornado roared past, Murphy could hear it.

“I stood at an angle where I could see out the front doors, out the glass,” he said. “It was a brown out.”

When the winds had subsided, he took stock — everyone who had taken shelter in the theater was safe and the structure was standing.

“First glance, we still had glass,” he said. “The windows didn’t blow out.”

Outside, he noticed the absence of buildings — the bowling alley and the hospital were devastated.

“There was tons of debris,” he said. “We had signs that had ripped out, but for the most part we knew that our building was all right.”

Several cars damaged at the theater but next door at Moore Medical Center, cars were demolished.

IMAX Manager Alex Ansai arrived shortly after the tornado hit.

“I had seen the storm pass from a distance and I had been talking with Pat so I had a pretty good idea that it was bad,” he said.

Murphy and Ansai allowed access to theater for triage and lent whatever assistance they could.

“It’s pretty unbelievable to look at the progress six months later,” Murphy said of recovery efforts. After the tornado, he thought it would take years to rebuild the amount of damage.

“I’m impressed,” he said.

Ansai is an Oklahoman and knows the damage tornadoes can do, but he was stunned by the amount of destruction.

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