St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Okla. is working with the local Red Cross and has opened up 34 of its dorm rooms in Degrasse Hall to those displaced by the tornadoes that ravaged the area last Sunday afternoon. Displaced residents will be housed on one floor in a wing of the hall named after one of the University's founding monks.
"The tornado came about a mile from campus," said Harley Lingerfelt, vice president of operations at the University. "We saw it from our parking lot."
Aside from downed limbs, the University sustained no damage or injuries from the three tornadoes that struck the area between 4-5 p.m. on Sunday, May 19. Commencement exercises at the University were held on May 11, so school was over and students were gone when the storms hit.
"About 96 homes were obliterated outside of Shawnee," said Lingerfelt. "So we decided to open up our dorms for those displaced. We understand that some of the other shelters are really full, and Oklahoma Baptist University, down the road, can no longer house people because of some camps they're running. We're on standby and expect to receive our first group at any moment."
The University is also hosting approximately 30 students from Joplin, Missouri in the gymnasium who are coming to help resident in Moore, which is approximately 40 miles from campus.
"We were fortunate," said Lingerfelt. "The tornadoes that went through here were as powerful as those in Moore, but they hit less populated areas."
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