Delaware County Tornado Recovery Efforts

Monday, June 5th 2006, 9:54 am
By: News On 6

It is still tornado season in Oklahoma. People in one northeastern Oklahoma town are working to get back to business after a tornado ripped across a portion of Delaware County back in March.

In our follow-up file, News on 6 anchor Craig Day went to Twin Oaks and Kansas, Oklahoma to see how recovery efforts are going.

Just off US Highway 412, there are signs of progress in the tornado’s aftermath. Crews are busy rebuilding eight chicken houses to replace ones leveled. The new houses should be finished in three months.

Despite heavy damage, the Springplace Country Store was only closed two days. Store employee Lana Strong: "It tore up the building pretty bad. Broke out all the front windows and the freezer door, blew the glass out of those. Ceiling tiles. Hole in the roof, blew everything off the shelves. It was a pretty big mess in here."

Store employees say they're lucky it wasn't worse. While progress is being made, three months after the tornado, there is still a lot of work to be done in the Twin Oaks area.

Recovering from such a powerful storm is a difficult challenge. Drive through Twin Oaks and you'll see debris piles and homes still damaged.

One of the houses belongs to Jerry Lawrence. "We lost three houses, a travel trailer, seven cars, a boat. About everything we had out here." Like many residents, Lawrence is frustrated with FEMA. He says there are promises of help, but he hasn't seen signs of it. "When somebody comes here and you keep going to their meetings and their meetings and we're lining up to do this and do that and they never do anything. Why do they treat these people like that."

Many people believe the process is cumbersome, with storm victims mired in paperwork. Some estimate it could be another year before debris is cleared and scenic US Highway 412 becomes scenic again.

A group of volunteers called the Southern Delaware Long Term Disaster Relief Team is trying to help. They work with storm victims to help streamline the paperwork process.