Miami, Okla., Residents Fear They May not be Able to Return Home

Sharon Glass fought back tears after hearing she may not be able to return to her flood-damaged home.

“I just wonder how a judgment call could be made before FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) officials have even set up shop,” said Glass, whose residence took on more than three feet of water inside.

“My insurance company told me on Friday that I may not be allowed to move back in. Because emotions are running high anyway due to the flooding, I now have to wait to learn if I will be allowed to move back to my home.”

Mayor Brent Brassfield appealed for calm and patience, saying city officials didn’t have all the answers yet.

“City officials met with members of the Oklahoma Water Resource Board Monday morning, and were told that failure to enforce the floodplain regulations puts everyone at risk,” Brassfield said during a news briefing that was attended by several dozen residents.

“I’m asking residents, don’t overreact.”

The Ottawa County town of about 14,000 was swamped when the Neosho River overflowed its banks and remained over flood stage for about a week. President Bush issued a federal disaster declaration on Saturday for Ottawa and Washington counties.

The declaration will help people and businesses pay expenses related to flood damage, including housing repairs, temporary housing and loans.

Meanwhile, officials were able to reach some residents in the southern part of Nowata County who were stranded without supplies, said Eddie Howard, South Coffeyville assistant fire chief.

Many Nowata County residents continue to be under a boil order for their water.

“We are manning operations 24 hours a day here at the fire department, passing out water and serving as a warehouse for Red Cross supplies,” Howard said. “Many of our firefighters are affected by the floodwaters personally and they have stayed on unselfishly to help others, so they have not been able to take care of their own needs.”

In Washington County, Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., toured affected areas to speak with residents who were assessing damage.

Washington County Emergency Management Director Kary Cox said new problems are cropping up with homes that are developing problems with mold and air-conditioning units that took in too much water at their foundations.

Information from: Tulsa World,