MOORE — Barbara Garcia's prayers were answered May 20 when a TV reporter pointed out her beloved schnauzer trapped in debris after a tornado leveled her home.
“I thought God just answered one prayer ‘let me be OK,'” Garcia said as she bent down to pet her Bowsy after the dog was freed from the wreckage. “He answered both of them because this was my second prayer.”
More than two months after the tornado, a third prayer has been answered because volunteers are making her house the first to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Jim Fischetti is one of the few Oklahomans who didn't see TV or Internet video of Garcia recovering her dog. Immediately after the storm, the chief executive officer at Oklahoma City Northwest Keller Williams Realty was on the phone calling his workers to see how they and their families were doing.
When he heard that Garcia, 74, the grandmother of an administrative employee for one of his real estate agents, had lost her home, he partnered with Operation Blessing, an international nonprofit that helps uninsured and underinsured people after disasters, to reconstruct the home.
“We really take seriously that our people are family and you take care of them,” Fischetti said.
Garcia couldn't be more thankful.
Garcia's home was the first of 57 rebuild requests so far in Moore. Moore had 1,029 homes destroyed and an additional 1,036 damaged, Moore special projects manager Jared Jakubowski said. The May 20 EF5 tornado in Moore killed 24 people.
Garcia doesn't have homeowner's insurance and lives on $1,170 a month in Social Security. She is grateful to have her dog and soon, her home, back.
“It's hard for me to believe,” Garcia said. “It's not me, it's Bowser. He's the rock star.”
Fischetti and Garcia have been in contact since just a few days after the tornado.
Operation Blessing poured the foundation for the new home July 7 and started laying bricks about a week later, Operation Blessing disaster relief director Jody Herrington-Gettys said.
Herrington-Gettys said Garcia's requests, including hardwood floors and laminate countertops, are being met.
Garcia lived in her two-story, 1,600-square-foot house for 40 years and raised children there.
The new home will be a wheelchair-accessible, 1,400-sqaure-foot, one-story.
While she waits for her home to be completed, Garcia's daughters are taking turns hosting her and Bowser.
Bowser follows her around as if he's afraid to lose her again. She can't even go to the bathroom by herself because Bowser will scratch at the door until Garcia lets him in. He's also been temperamental since the storm, only wanting to be around Garcia and snapping at other people.