Flood Cleanup Begins

Thursday, July 5th 2007, 8:23 am
By: News On 6

The first steps in the cleanup have begun in Coffeyville, where the Verdigris River continues to drop. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports the water topped the levee there early Sunday and flooded several neighborhoods and a business district.

Rex Holeman is salvaging what's left from his mother-in-law’s house.

“We're not going to do anything with it. It's a loss as far as we're concerned,” Holeman said.

Most people can't go even back yet to look. High water still surrounds many homes, and the neighborhoods are blocked off.

Only the residents who have city permission can go see their flood damaged homes. There's a long line of people waiting to get permission.

The city has checked about one third of the homes, clearing them of dead animals and dangerous utility problems.

“We are permitting them to go back in if their electric meter has been pulled,” said Coffeyville city inspector Larry Trotter. “They have to get a pass and produce an ID card.”

Along Highway 169, the water has dropped, leaving the damage clear to see. The town’s newest hotel was soaked. The pumps at one gas station were underwater. Huge stains of oil cover the streets. A gasoline tanker truck was washed into the woods from several blocks away. Cars floated and ended up in stacks. Food from grocery stores is rotting in the sun, but the cleanup has started in a few places.

Contractors are using giant paper towels to soak up oil a couple of blocks from the refinery.

The flood wiped out 80 businesses on the east side of town, which was hardest hit by the flood. One unknown is if or when the businesses can rebuild and reopen.

But the bigger problem is the estimated 500 homes that are now uninhabitable. Some can be repaired while others will have to be demolished, but that is up to homeowners, who like Holeman, will be lucky to find anything left worth saving.

For the HUD office in Coffeyville, call 620-251-6920.

If you think you have oil damage from the refinery leak, call 1-800-958-5380.

For Red Cross, call 1-888-460-1050.

Three shelters have been set up in Coffeyville. They are located at the following areas:

  • First Southern Baptist Church at 2701 West 8th Street
  • First Assembly of God at 1504 West 8th Street
  • Sycamore Landing at 701 Lewark Street

  • Watch the video: Flood Victims Return To Waterlogged Homes

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