22 people survived the Moore, Oklahoma tornado in a credit union's vault.

Matt Gunn, Managing Editor | TechComply

Amid the heartbreaking stories that come from any natural disaster, there are always a few that inspire hope and encouragement. In that respect, at least, the devastating tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma this week is no different.

A bank’s vault has long been a symbol for strength and security. For 22 people, the vault of a Tinker Federal Credit Union branch also saved their lives. It’s one small piece of good news in the midst of tragedy.

The credit union’s vault is about all that was left standing after the tornado, reports ABC News:

There were 14 employees and eight other people in the vault. There was one problem: They couldn’t get the vault door closed all the way from the inside. Someone took off a belt and looped it through an opening meant to let in oxygen so that they could tug the vault door closed as much as possible, she said.

When it still wouldn’t close all the way, the branch manager, the police officer and another employee held the door shut “just in case.”

The 6,387-sq. foot branch lost nearly everything else. First responders helped the 22 people out of the vault once the storm passed. And while the branch won’t be up and running for some time, its branch manager stayed with the vault until it could be secured, Credit Union Times reports.

“The safe deposit boxes in the vault are safe and locked up,” said Matt Stratton, Tinker FCU’s VP of marketing. “We’ll figure out a way to get members access to their safe deposit boxes, but access to the location is limited right now.”

And so it goes for a financial institution after a disaster. Though the branch was destroyed and won’t be accessible for some time, there’s still work to be done for their customers.