Tulsa City-County Team Up To Provide Long-term Small Disaster Response

Thursday, April 14th 2016, 1:52 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa is starting a new kind of long-term planning for small disasters. It comes two weeks after the north Tulsa tornado destroyed five homes.

In a big disaster, there's a big response. But in local disasters, people who still have lost a lot can be unable to get much help.

Tulsa County, working with the city, wants to set up a permanent network of resources for a long-term response.

It would go beyond emergency response and short term cleanup to make sure people are able to get homes repaired, deal with long-term issues like the mental health impact of losing possessions.

The logic is that Tulsa will have to keep dealing with this.

"We deal with about 13 major hazards in our area, and one of them is tornadoes,” Tulsa Area Emergency Management’s Roger Joliff said. “It's something we need to plan for, they're going to impact us as long as we live here. It's going to continue to come back every year."

The thinking is that people aren't getting coordinated help with situations that are life changing, but not quite an emergency.

In north Tulsa, rebuilding started quickly, but the recovery will take a long time.

That's where the county wants to help victims, with needs that sometimes crop up months later.

Tulsa County Social Services briefed the city on Thursday for a plan to coordinate fundraising, volunteers and government assistance to help not just the victims of the most recent storm – but also storms that haven't happened yet.

In north Tulsa, Dennis Robinson has volunteers rebuilding his porch, while other workers - some paid, some volunteers - are all over the neighborhood.

He was encouraged by news the city can soon help him and his neighbors pay for emergency repairs.

"They probably need more than roofs, they need all sorts of stuff, so it would be nice if somebody could help them,” homeowner Dennis Robinson said.

Dwain Midget of the City of Tulsa said, “we're working on the details of that. The city is trying to make available $100,000 to assist those victims."

The money would pay for emergency repairs up to $5,000.

The larger plan is to mobilize any social services needed for people impacted by storms, even long after the skies clear.

"I hope though this effort we can start focusing on the recovery part,” Midget said.

The process for emergency repairs starts with Catholic Charities; that number is 918-949-4673 extension 170

Other needs can go through the 211 phone line.

After the Sand Springs tornado, the county started a similar effort.