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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 Modified: June 30, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: June 30, 2013

District 2 County Commissioner Brian Maughan said he has been trying to help the couple by getting an official condemnation of the property, which could help with insurance vagaries.

“It's complicated, and it's disheartening,” Maughan said. “Being there that day watching as chunks of their land fell into the river — it was really disconcerting. It was clear they needed to evacuate that house immediately.”

The Bufords said Catholic Charities offered immediate help, putting them up in a hotel room while they looked for a rental home. Many neighbors and volunteers helped empty the contents of their home.

Gary Buford works at Pro-Fab Inc. in Oklahoma City and has a steady income, but the couple is now paying both a mortgage and monthly rent, which they can't afford.

Rhonda Buford said Bank of America, their mortgage holder, has tried to help by offering them a three-month forbearance on their mortgage, but they still will owe the back payments unless insurance comes through on their home.

“We are trying to figure out some way to set a precedent so no one else has to go through this,” Rhonda Buford said.

‘We love the river'

Gary Buford said it is difficult knowing their home is going to fall into the river unless insurance comes through and allows it to be demolished first.

“We moved there because we love the river,” Gary Buford said. “Now it's going to turn around and ruin the river. We don't want it to fall in and then wash down and damage our neighbors' property.”