Choctaw couple has 'fallen through the cracks' after river nearly washed home away

Gary and Rhonda Buford's home could wash into the North Canadian River any day. Their homeowner's insurer and flood insurer say the lost home isn't covered by their policies.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: June 30, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: June 30, 2013

A couple whose Choctaw home nearly washed into the swollen North Canadian River on June 6 say they have “fallen through the cracks,” as neither their homeowner's insurance nor flood insurance will cover their lost home.

Gary and Rhonda Buford are renting a home in Midwest City because their house at NE 36 and Triple X Road — which once was a couple of hundred feet from the river's edge — could wash away any day.

“The insurance companies are kind of pointing at each other,” Rhonda Buford said Friday.

The Bufords are getting help from U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, who set up a meeting Friday morning in his office with the couple, their mortgage holder, Insurance Commissioner John Doak's staff, charity groups and others who could offer aid.

Rhonda Buford said they have received lots of emotional help as well, but their key problem remains unsolved. Their home insurer claims the damage is not covered under their policy, and their flood insurer said the damage is erosion, not flooding.

“We thought we did everything right,” Gary Buford said. “We had home insurance. We had flood insurance. We were faithful in paying our premiums and we have fallen through the cracks.”

Precariously perched

The home is perched precariously on the edge of the river, and authorities say it's not safe for the couple to return.

Before recent flooding, the river was about 200 feet to the east of the home. Several storms brought the water level up, culminating in a massive May 31 storm that dumped 11.5 inches of rain on the Oklahoma City metro area.

The influx of storm runoff engorged the river and caused it to shift to the west, quickly eroding the bank. A barn and an out building on the Buford's property fell into the river. Their home and a smaller house a few feet away, where their grown son lived, are on the river's edge and could fall in at any time.



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