UPDATED — Bill Warren’s theater in Moore, Okla., sustained damage from a tornado that tore through the city this afternoon, but he says everyone there is fine.
“The theater had a little bit of damage, but I don’t care about that,” he says.
He says staff and customers are safe.
“We talked to the staff, and everyone is safe.”
The glass front of the building is damaged, Warren says.
“I just saw the theater on CNN,” he says. “Well, the front looks kind of bad.”
Then Warren talked with a manager at the theater.
“He said that the front of the place is superficially pretty torn up,” Warren says. “That looks pretty tore up, but the building’s fine.
He says a nearby hospital is damaged as well.
“The bowling alley next door is leveled,” Warren says. “The houses behind the theater are flattened.”
He says he believes the tornado veered and mostly avoided his building.
Warren says he’s been told by a Wichita news outlet that his theater is being used as a staging area for responders, but he hasn’t confirmed that with anyone in Oklahoma.
“The building’s whole and safe, and it’s got emergency lighting.”
Warren says he’s relieved about everyone’s safety at the building.
“That’s all that counts. I don’t care about the building. I’ve got insurance for that.”
There’s also a Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers a block south of the theater.
Freddy’s COO Scott Redler says there’s no word on the condition of the restaurant yet but that everyone there is OK.
“No one in Freddy’s is injured,” he says. “Our regional manager actually had to park a distance . . . and walk to the restaurant.”
A text from the manager to Redler says that no one is hurt and that there aren’t any phones.
“That’s the important stuff,” Redler says. “No one’s injured, so that’s really all that matters.”
Redler says he spoke with Warren, who told him he thinks he saw the restaurant on TV and that it looks OK.
“We’re still in a wait-and-see-mode.”
He adds: “Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody who was affected by this massive tornado.”
Warren says staff at his Wichita and Oklahoma theaters know what to do in bad weather or other emergencies.
“We have procedures that have been in place for years,” he says.
“We did this in Wichita yesterday,” he says of bad weather here.
First, whatever movies are playing are stopped.
“We turn on the lights. We announce to the public what’s going on,” Warren says.
Moviegoers are then told they can leave or stay and take cover in a hallway or between seats.
“We normally suggest that they stay there,” Warren says.
He says the theater walls are made of concrete.
“It’s not as safe as being underground, but it’s the second-best safety.”
In addition, Warren says, customers get their money back.
“We give them a refund.”