Oklahoma Towns Nearly Completed With Rapid Response, Preceding Long Term Recovery

(Architecture for Humanity)

In the weeks after a series of destructive and deadly tornadoes swept through central Oklahoma, Architecture for Humanity has been assisting communities, meeting rebuilding authorities, and assessing still-emerging needs and long term priorities for the stricken towns.

Background & Current Status

Between May 18 and June 2, a series of tornadoes touched down in the Oklahoma City metro area, killing more than 50, injuring hundreds and damaging or destroying over 10,000 homes. The most well known area hit was the city of Moore, but several other Oklahoma City suburbs were hit hard as well.

As of this posting, the affected area is continuing with debris removal, mostly from residential neighborhoods. Contractors and city crews will continue debris removal through July and into August. Much of this work has been supported by federal and state emergency funding.

In Person, On the Ground

Veteran Architecture for Humanity volunteer Tommy Stewart, AIA, AICP, LEED, has been on the ground since immediately following the storms, meeting with organizations and individuals involved with the ongoing recovery efforts and assisting with post disaster damage assessments for homeowners.

Tommy has also been liaising with the Long Term Recovery Committee For the May 18-June 2, 2013, Disaster, which is made up of organizations including FEMA, the AARP, City and State officials, various church organizations and nonprofit disaster recovery organizations. The committee acknowledges that its members are still involved with immediate family and individual needs, and that the conversion to long term reconstruction is still weeks away.

Diedre Edrey, Director of the Marketing and Economic Development Department of Moore, tells us that they too have been consumed with the day to day needs of their community, and are just now beginning to think about long term recovery. The city has nevertheless identified several public facilities that will not be covered by insurance, FEMA, or other public funds.

These unaided facilities stand out as candidates for support. Some coordination and discussion remains to determine the city’s specific long-term redevelopment priorities, and how we can most effectively engage them.

Recovery on track

As with any major disaster, a period of several weeks to several months must be committed to the initial recovery phase -clearing debris, ensuring personal safety and comfort, identifying temporary school facilities, and assessing long term needs and priorities.

The pace of recovery in Oklahoma may be aggravating, but is consistent with post-disaster efforts of similar size and severity.

Recovering in place, image by Tommy Stewart, Architecture for Humanity volunteer


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