In 2015, 6,869 people registered with FEMA in 45 Oklahoma counties after treacherous rain and flooding. The U.S. government declared the disaster a FEMA emergency, allowing for the use of government money in recovery efforts.
Robertta Lee, a widow who was recovering from the recent deaths of her husband and adult daughter, was one of the many storm survivors who contacted Catholic Charities seeking help. Shortly after the storms swept through Oklahoma in Spring 2015, Lee suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. She contacted Catholic Charities hoping to find help to repair her home from the flood damage.
Case manager Heather Millar met with Lee to determine her needs and help create a recovery plan.
“Initially Mrs. Lee was denied federal assistance because she had homeowners’ insurance at the time of the disaster,” Millar said. “But, the repairs were more than she could afford while living on a fixed income.” Lee and Millar drafted a statement to present to the unmet needs committee, showing that her deductible was more than the cost of the repairs.
The committee approved the funding, and partner agencies volunteered manpower for repairs to her roof, ceiling and floor that were necessary to keep her home in livable condition.
Millar said, “Many times, clients are struggling before a disaster hits, and being forced to clean up from a natural disaster only increases the magnitude of those prior struggles.”
Disaster case managers like Millar work to provide hope and guidance through difficult times for survivors who are on the road to recovery.
Catholic Charities Disaster Services provides clients with safe, sanitary and secure homes following a natural disaster. Many times clients have no money to buy materials such as roof shingles, drywall or lumber that are necessary to fix damage. After an individual recovery plan is determined, case managers work with partner agencies to secure resources such as manpower, materials and money to meet disaster-related unmet needs.
“Lee is now living comfortably in her home without the fear of damaging her health due to unsafe living conditions caused by the flooding. She can enjoy the time she has with her granddaughter and watch her grow in security.”