Surveying The Flood Damage

Monday, July 9th 2007, 6:00 pm
By: News On 6

Residents in Coffeyville, Kansas got their first look at the damage to their homes and their neighborhoods on Monday. The city arranged a bus tour for them, while also announcing that tests of the drinking water have come back clean. A FEMA representative on Monday told News On 6’s Emory Bryan that they had never seen a community so organized to help its own citizens, and already there is plenty of food, water and shelter, and more help on the way.

Emory Bryan reports as for the damage, the city of Coffeyville hopes to have every home checked for hazards by Wednesday so people can get back to claim what's left.

A tour bus slowly moved through Coffeyville's now dried out neighborhoods, giving some residents their first look at the damage on Monday. Those who chose to get on the bus to look at the damage were accompanied by medical help, just in case the scene was overwhelming. Because of the fear of contamination the neighborhoods are blocked off with military checkpoints, and the residents were not allowed off the bus in the flood damaged area. And a new precaution has begun, the trucks going into the area are decontaminated on the way out.

Across town, volunteers have organized a relief effort that's helping supply the basic needs.

"There are a lot of people that need help and we want to do what we can,” said Janice Devore Gillis of the Coffeyville Community Foundation. “Of course the victims are in shelters or with family and we want to make sure that they have the supplies that they need everyday."

Semi loads of food have arrived and every meal is served to about 1,600 people, both victims and those helping them. More than a hundred people are staying in shelters, but most are with family and friends who were on higher ground. To help flood victims in the long term, the federal government opened a disaster center over the weekend. They’re taking applications for assistance and advising the flood victims about what they should do next.

"FEMA is very concerned about clean up, very concerned about safety issues, in any flood we have mold issues we want to address," FEMA official Joanna Voultsides said.

And other agencies that can help are on site to make it as much of a one stop relief center as possible. A community prayer tent has been set up downtown and some residents have used it as a place to cool off and seek spiritual relief.

Much of the flood damage hasn't been touched. More environmental tests are being done and the area is being checked for other hazards before people are allowed in to start cleaning up.

On Monday the city said it was no longer necessary for people to boil their drinking water after tests confirmed the water was safe to drink.

Watch the video: Coffeyville Residents Bused Through Flood Damaged Neighborhoods

WEB EXTRA: Driving Tour Of Coffeyville, Kansas Flood Damage

The city of Coffeyville has set up a special web site with flood related information.

Coffeyville Resources also has information about the flood at its web site.

For more flooding information, check out our STORM ZONE web page.