Disaster Relief Teams Helping Southern Part Of State Recover From Ice Storm

Tuesday, December 10th 2013, 10:41 pm
By: Craig Day

Storm victims in southern Oklahoma face a long road to recovery from the first major winter weather of the season. As of Tuesday night, several thousand customers still didn't have electrical power.

Disaster relief teams from our area are working in Choctaw County, which was hit hard.

Five Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams from our state are working in southeastern Oklahoma this week. They say damage caused by ice is widespread and it will take weeks to recover.

When a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief chainsaw team left Claremore for southern Oklahoma, they knew it would be another challenging cleanup job.

"It's very much like the ice storm we had in Tulsa, just every tree impacted," said Danny Cotner, a volunteer with a chainsaw team, which is working in Choctaw County, where they got 160 work orders from people needing help on Monday alone.

"This whole county has been covered pretty good," he said.

Many of the areas where they're working are hard to access.

"[There are] many trees bent way down on houses and then frozen to the roof of the house, or frozen to the ground," Cotner said.

Cotner says the bulk of the major ice damage is spread across a 30-mile area of southeastern Oklahoma.

He predicts it will take weeks to clear the debris, possibly on into the new year.

"We're seeing 3/4 inch, to an inch of ice on trees, so it's a pretty devastating storm," Cotner said.

Volunteers from the Bixby and Mounds area are also helping in southern Oklahoma. In addition to Choctaw County, volunteers are working in parts of McCurtain County in far southeastern Oklahoma.