“There were about 30 of us, huddled in the central hallway. They (union officials) had been watching the storms and I had just started my talk when they said it was time to duck-and-cover,” he said. “That experience taught me that (emergency) drills really do work.”
The current Moore office at 200 NE 27th St. was only a slab when the May 3 tornado hit Moore in 1999 and was unaffected. The building opened later that year on time in September. Purifoy became the manager for the Moore office in 2001.
While Purifoy was not personally impacted by the 1999 and 2013 tornados the same way as the bombing and the 2003 storms he said all disasters affect the people needing help from the SSA in a similar way.
“A lot of people need help when those things happen. Even if it’s just needing a replacement Social Security Card, but you have survivor benefits, disability,” he said. “We were at Westmoore High School after this last storm, there are lots of people effected.”
“I’ve learned more about trauma and PTSD than I ever wanted to know through it all,” he said, reflecting. “I didn’t want to learn it, but I learned it.”
“Technology has changed over the past 40 years,” Purifoy said, laughing at the obviousness of the statement. “I mean, when I started in Stillwater we switched from manual typewriters to electric and we thought that was high-tech. We got our first fax machine in the early nineties at the Oklahoma City office and now people can do most of their work on-line.”
Purifoy said the SSA now has a great deal of information on its website and people can take care of most things from home. He was quick to point out the office is always happy to help people face-to-face if that is what the customer prefers but for those who like doing work on-line, they are expanding those capabilities every day.