By Courtney Griggs, Fort Sill CannoneerFebruary 4, 2010
FORT SILL, OKla.--The ice storm that blew through Southwest Oklahoma Jan. 28 caused devastation to much of the Lawton and Fort Sill communities. Some Soldiers and civilians spent hours, others days, without electricity.
These power outages left thousands of people without heat, food and water. Without a single vacancy at any hotel or motel in the area, displaced families were forced to either drive out of town to find a hotel room or seek shelter at a local church or gym.
Honeycutt Fitness Center on Fort Sill is one such shelter open to Soldiers, family members and pets.
"Right now we have 43 people staying here for shelter," said Concetha Davis, Honeycutt assistant manager. "We have six families and about four singles staying here.
"There is a facility on post that brings us breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have been doing an excellent job providing us with that. We are providing cots, air mattresses, sleeping bags, pretty much everything they need accept pillows and blankets."
Furry friends didn't get left behind in the cold.
"Animals are welcome, too," said Davis. "So far we have six dogs and one cat staying here."
Some families seeking shelter at the gym have been using the facility since it opened on Friday.
"We have some families that have been here since it started, which was Friday," said Davis. "Since Friday we have been a 24-hour facility. People have been coming in, a couple of families have been leaving, but most people are staying. We expect more people to come. We have some people on staff who still don't have power."
Davis said she didn't see the closure of the gym as a shelter any time soon.
"I don't think we are closing any time soon," said Davis. "Not until everyone has power. The heat here is working really well. If the power goes out over here, they will have it fixed in no time."
"We have been here since yesterday," said Janelle Weikal about her family of four who live off post. "Our power has been off since Thursday night."
Weikal and her family drove to Wichita Falls Saturday night to look for a vacant hotel room.
"We have two Chihuahuas and didn't know if any shelters would allow pets," said Weikal.
Weikal praised the staff at Honeycutt gym for their service.
"We are being fed three big meals a day," said Weikal. "We have a place to do our laundry. If we need anything at all, we just ask. Someone is here 24 hours a day in case we need anything."