The 2015 spring storm season has brought on a series of tornadoes and floods throughout the United States, leaving thousands of families to pick up the pieces of their lives and begin the long road to recovery.
Texas and Oklahoma in particular have experienced more than a month of sporadic tornadoes and floods. As of June 19, 2015, 30 counties in Texas and 24 counties in Oklahoma have been federally declared as eligible to apply for state and federal disaster assistance.
Because the damage across Oklahoma and Texas is so widespread, responding organizations and local resources are also spread thin. As a result, clean up hasn’t even begun in some areas, and preliminary damage assessments are still in process in others.
In Oklahoma, the Red Cross alone has identified 2,800 private residences that were affected. The amount of damage to these homes ranges from complete destruction to minor damage. The official Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) registration is just beginning in Oklahoma, but in Texas, over 13,000 households who need assistance to recover have already registered with FEMA. Both states continue to conduct damage assessments and encourage survivors in declared counties to register for assistance from FEMA.
In addition to May flooding and tornadoes, Tropical Storm Bill made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Texas on Tuesday, June 15. Sustained winds of 60 miles per hour were reported, and even more rain fell on already saturated areas. Bill then turned into a topical depression, and moving north, impacted communities from Oklahoma and Illinois to New England, bringing heavy rains and causing more flooding.
The following are real situations residents throughout Oklahoma and Texas are experiencing. (www.crisiscleanup.org)
- “A lot of debris in the garage and flood with 4" of water starting to smell.” OKC, OK
- “Resident is 100% disabled; there are a lot of trees needing to be taken down and away. Home was completely destroyed.” Bridge Creek, OK
- “Foundation of the home shifted.” Bridge Creek, OK
- “Northwest corner of house has sunk and come apart. The house is totally flooded and snakes and mold are present.” Bridge Creek, OK
- “D is alone and needs help tearing out her flood-damaged flooring.” Houston TX
- “Mold is already growing.” Houston, TX
- “They are elderly and need a lot of help.” Houston, TX
- “Resident is over 60 and has a lot of mud left in her basement from flooding.” OKC, OK
- “Older woman unable to move around and needs a lot of debris removed from around her home.” Bridge Creek, OK
- “Severe damage, whole house needs to be gutted.” San Marcos, TX
World Renew Responds
Since the end of May, World Renew DRS sent two teams of early response coordinators to Texas and a third team to Oklahoma to meet with local officials, other responding organizations, and homeowners.
An unmet needs assessment as already been informally requested by an area in Texas and as local recovery groups begin to organize, we anticipate that other communities will also request unmet needs assessments as well. World Renew DRS has also been asked to work with FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaisons (VALs) to set up long-term recovery groups for counties in Oklahoma.
A rapid response team was deployed to Bridge Creek, Oklahoma, on June 17 to help residents with clean-up after the May 6 tornado.
“Homes have been completely destroyed here in Bridge Creek,” says Lois Hecksel, a rapid response volunteer for World Renew DRS. “One mobile home was completely picked up into the air and set down a short distance away. We have a lot of work to do and that doesn’t even include all the flood-damaged homes in other parts of the state.”
You Can Help
Families throughout Texas and Oklahoma are still in the very early stages of recovering from this spring’s disasters. Your gift today will help affected individuals and families with clean-up services right now as well as long-term recovery. World Renew DRS specializes in helping communities continue to recover from a disaster months and years after it occurs. These services are always carried out in partnership with a local organization and...
in the days after a disaster, include
- providing spiritual care to survivor.
- networking with local officials and other responding organizations to ensure appropriate help is being provided.
- providing volunteers to help with debris removal, muck out, etc.
in the weeks to months after a disaster, include
- identifying vulnerable survivors who still need help recovering to ensure they do not fall through the cracks (the unmet needs assessment).
- providing reconstruction estimates of damaged homes for long term recovery groups.
- guide and train local recovery groups in best practices in disaster recovery.
in the months to years after a disaster, include
- providing reconstruction services for homeowners who need help rebuilding.
- continuing support to communities.
World Renew DRS will work with local communities and state VOADS (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) in Texas, Oklahoma, and beyond, developing long-term recovery plans and helping those who are most in need, in the name of Christ.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jocelyn Augustino - Wimberley, TX, Volunteers help clean out debris created by the recent flooding and storms next to Hidden Valley Road. Residents impacted by the recent flooding are encouraged to register with FEMA for federal assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA). Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA