Dealing with tornado damage without the help of FEMA

Thursday, May 29th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

This month, severe weather has wiped out homes and businesses in 19 of the state's 77 counties. That prompted the federal government to offer financial aid.

But some folks in Washington County tell us, they aren't getting the help they need, especially those near Dewey and Copan. News on 6 anchor Tami Marler listened to their frustrations.

The aftermath of the Washington County tornado last month resulted in 41 homes damaged or destroyed, with a total cost of nearly $2-million.

Part of their rural Dewey home was blown away, but the Davies’ family was thankful to be alive. The storms may have blown right past you and me, but several people here in Washington County are still recovering from the first wave of severe weather, struggling with insurance companies to rebuild their lives, and wondering 'where's the federal government in our crisis?'

"Our home is just as important as anyone else's." Debbie Davies' family is sleeping outside their home in a travel trailer while it's gutted and rebuilt, all without help from FEMA.

Oklahoma hit FEMA's radar screen starting in May, with the major damage in Oklahoma City. Once that window opened, FEMA couldn't go backwards to include the Dewey storm in its federal aid package, but the much less severe Bartlesville storm from May 16th could be covered.

Debbie Davies says she and her family are doing much of the work themselves to save money. With or without the federal government, they should be back in their home in time to get their daughter off to college.

Washington County Emergency Management Director Kary Cox said he is working with government agencies and volunteer groups to find help for the uninsured and the newly homeless.

Contributions for storm victims can be sent to the American Red Cross Disaster Services Fund at P.O Box 1174, Bartlesville, OK 74005.