Officials Tour Flooded Homes in Oklahoma City

July 16, 2010

As electric fans hum and garbage piles up on the curb, Rhonda King goes about picking up the pieces from the July 6 flood that left her father-in-law’s home in shambles.

King’s father-in-law, George King, did not have flood insurance. Inside his home at 5101 S. Harvey, carpet has been torn up and valuables sorted for possible salvage. Rhonda King said the fans will come out soon and they will find out how much mold is on the wallboard and insulation.

“It’s going to take a long time to get through everything,” Rhonda King said. “We haven’t gone through things in the back of the house that may or may not be able to be replaced or repaired. The main thing is getting carpet up and everything dried out.”

The cul-de-sac was hammered by the storms that swelled nearby Lightning Creek. At a neighbor’s house, mounds of damp carpet and discarded furniture are piled by the curb waiting to be hauled off.

Officials visited about two dozen homes on July 14. The goal is to find out what kind of insurance the home and business owners have and the overall level of damage to their property.

“It’s a cursory step but an important step,” Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten said. “We not only look at homes and the amount of damage, but we also talk to the home and business owners to find out what insurance they have. What we have found so far is none of the people impacted have flood insurance.”

Rhonda King is hoping someone lends a helping hand. Her father-in-law, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, has been staying with relatives since the flood. She was happy to see FEMA but knows there are few guarantees.

Oklahoma residents impacted by flooding on June 13 were denied assistance by the White House earlier this month.

“I don’t know if there’s a lot of hope there since FEMA didn’t extend help to those people,” Rhonda King said. “We’re relying on our own resources.”

FEMA spokesman H.R. Holman said inspectors aren’t compiling dollar figures on what repairs will cost. He said the tour is about assessing the cumulative level of damage. After the information is compiled it will be forwarded to the governor’s office. From there a request will be sent to the White House.

Down the street at 5113 S. Harvey, Carla Cofer and Regina King watched as inspectors went through homes. Regina King’s house flooded primarily in the garage, where she stores collectibles and other items. Water rose almost three feet and flooded her car, which has since started working again.

Cofer lives in Drumright but was staying with her friend the night of the flood.

“It was so scary,” Cofer said. “But we ended up being pretty lucky. There were people who got hit a lot harder. She didn’t have anything flooded that can’t be cleaned up.”

Regina King said she feels badly for her neighbors.

“People have lost cars and had so much damage to their homes,” she said. “It’s such a shame. This is a really good neighborhood with a lot of good people.”

Ooten said assessments will continue this week. She advised those affected by floods to take photos of the damage to their homes and keep receipts of costs associated with cleanup efforts. She said the process of applying for relief is just beginning.

“If we don’t come to your home or if you don’t see us it doesn’t mean you missed out on anything,” she said. “We don’t have federal assistance at this point. This is the process we go through to try and see if we would possibly qualify. We’re simply doing the groundwork today to document the damage.”

Information from: The Oklahoman,

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