EL RENO, Okla. (KFOR) – After a deadly tornado ripped through El Reno in May, the town is dealing with more devastation.
Oil giant Halliburton announced they plan to close their El Reno operation, leaving 808 people without jobs.
“It’s hard for this community, and we deserve to have a break. It would be wonderful if Mother Nature would not do the things she did to us, but it would be nice for the oil field community to really stop and think about everything in general as a family because we all have families. It’s Christmastime. It makes it very difficult to be able to support a family if you’re not making anything,” Tina Gracia, who lives in El Reno, said.
“A lot of scaredness, they don’t know what they’re going to do, but El Reno is a pretty tight-knit community. We take care of our own, we certainly help others, and if there’s something we can do to help, we absolutely will,” Nancy Salsman, who also lives in El Reno, said. “I’m a little concerned with 800 families that may not have Christmas. That breaks my heart.”
Mayor Matt White tells News 4 the possibility of shutting down was on their radar, but it’s something no one can prepare for.
“We held back on our budget to flatline what we did the year before, because of we saw the decline in the oilfield and everything else. So we wanted to try to not be completely dependent on the oil business,” he said.
White also expects a domino effect for others.
“They do a lot of shopping in our shops, a lot of eating in our restaurants. It’s going to be dramatic for our sales tax,” he said.
Salsman, who does an annual shopping day for families in need, is expanding her efforts to help those affected. She’s also setting up a GoFundMe page so people can pitch in.
Salsman tells News 4 the page will be up and running sometime tomorrow.
“That gives everybody the opportunity to help, whether it’s donating funds or actually going shopping and buying toys and blankets and socks and pajamas, and getting those to me, gives everybody the opportunity to come together as Oklahoma to help,” she said.
Halliburton released the following statement on Tuesday:
“Halliburton confirms it is relocating the majority of its operations in El Reno to its Duncan field camp in December. We made this decision in response to reduced activity levels in Oklahoma and the greater Mid-Continent area. Consolidating our operations takes advantage of Halliburton’s extensive footprint and synergies in the Duncan area including a strong employee hub and manufacturing expertise.
While the majority of employees were offered relocation, Halliburton also reduced its workforce in El Reno. Making this decision was not easy, nor taken lightly, but unfortunately, it was necessary as we work to align our operations to reduced customer activity.”