Besides keeping her family safe, the shelter also will be storage for irreplaceable items. She said she lost many pictures of her first husband, the father of her daughter, who had unexpectedly passed several years ago.
Russell-Bartlett’s mother had died the November before the storm.
“I had my mom’s ashes on my mantle,” she said.
Russell-Bartlett remembers standing in the rubble of her home thinking they were lost forever. She called out her mother’s nickname to her husband.
“I know,” her husband replied. “I’ll find her.”
“He dug for five days and he finally found her,” Russell-Bartlett said. “In the future, mom’s ashes will live in the shelter during storm season,” she said.
Russell-Bartlett and her family are one of many who have chosen to rebuild in Moore.
Elizabeth Jones, Moore’s community development director, said that there is a lot of building going on in the city, but that some residents are still in the early stages of recovery even six months after the disaster.
The city has issued a total of 437 new home construction permits since the tornado. Of those, there are 122 new single-family homes and 315 tornado rebuilds. In 2012, the city issued 238 total.
The city also has issued 415 permits for residential tornado remodels, Jones said.
“All neighborhoods are showing robust activity,” Jones said.
While activity is high, only approximately 30 percent of the destroyed homes are being rebuilt at the moment, based on building permits issued, Jones said.
FEMA estimates were as high as 1,300 destroyed homes. However, the cities count is somewhat lower at this point.
“We currently have a total of 1,079 homes destroyed,” Jones said. “We expect that total to increase slightly in the next few months as the city continues with our condemnation process,” she said.