BETHEL ACRES — Darryn Cook was forced to live in a tent and then a small camper in the aftermath of the May 19 tornado that tore up his mobile home in this rural Pottawatomie County community.
Cook, 46, said the temporary shelters were all he could afford and something more permanent just wasn't feasible.
“I didn't know what I was going to do,” he said.
Recently, the single dad became the first of six residents of the Steelman Estates mobile home park to receive a free refurbished mobile home from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and several community partners.
Cook said he had to see it before he could believe it.
“I was so excited, I couldn't wait for it to get here,” he said. “We have a thing here where we say, ‘When it comes over the hill, we'll believe it.'”
Sam Porter, director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's Disaster Relief division, said the organization has identified about 33 families that could benefit from the mobile homes. He said they are among the tornado victims who were displaced by the storm and have been unable to obtain enough funds to rent or build another home. He said the project is targeting people in rural Oklahoma from Bethel Acres and Carney to Little Axe east of Norman.
Porter said members of the Oilfield Christian Fellowship of Oklahoma found more than a dozen recycled oil field mobile home units that were between five and seven years old. He said the fellowship group sold the mobile homes to his Baptist organization and Baptist volunteers have refurbished them with new appliances, and if necessary, new flooring and repairs to doors and other items.
Porter said Catholic Charities' House in a Box disaster relief organization is providing new furniture for the mobile homes. He said the project is a good example of how agencies that partner together through the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD. The groups have worked together to provide assistance to the many victims of the May tornadoes.
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