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Clearing water from Midwest City's Riverside Mobile Home Park 'like draining a bathtub with a straw'

Nearly 100 tenants of the Riverside Mobile Home Park were affected by the torrential rain that came with storms on May 31, eventually breaching the levees of the nearby North Canadian River Basin.
by Adam Kemp Published: June 7, 2013
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Heather Crawford was planning a party for her son this weekend complete with a big moon bounce to celebrate TJ's 8th birthday.

Instead, Crawford and her husband will likely spend their weekend cleaning out their home in the Riverside Mobile Home Park in Crutcho, including emptying a closet full of ruined, waterlogged presents.

“We've been told that our house is for sure going to be condemned,” she said while standing in the middle of the Red Cross shelter at the Douglas Boulevard United Methodist Church. “We thought we'd be able to go back in after a few hours and dry things off but the water is still waist deep there today.”

Crawford, along with nearly 100 other tenants of the park, were affected by the torrential rain that came with storms on May 31, eventually breaching the levees of the nearby North Canadian River Basin.

Steven Palenko, the owner of the Riverside Mobile Home Park, said he feels like he's not getting enough help from the city to pump water out of the area.

Palenko said he has two pumps running to try to remove the water but things are slow because of the amount of rain that fell coupled with the levee breach.

“It would be like draining a bath tub with a straw,” Palenko said. “They are not designed for 22 inches of water on the street; they are designed for the park's overflow during a rainstorm. Not for a catastrophic flood like we had.”

Even if the water was all gone by Friday, Palenko said he thinks this is the end of his mobile home park.

“We are out of business,” Palenko said. “We have 105 homes and about 90 of those we have tenants in and we can't fix them fast enough. Mold will take them over.”

Tim Rundel, Midwest City's assistant city manager, said city officials have been surveying the area and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing assistance for homeowners.

Rundel said no decision has been made to condemn the area.

“There is no mandatory evacuations and no condemnations at all,” Rundel said. “The problem is we have our portable pumps working full time in our wastewater division. We have no spare pumps laying around.”

Rundel said the city is in the process of obtaining a large portable pump to drop in the southeast corner of the park to assist in the draining of the area. Rundel said they are advising residents to be wary of the water in the area as they believe it has been contaminated by sewer water.

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by Adam Kemp
Enterprise Reporter
Adam Kemp is an enterprise reporter and videographer for the Oklahoman and Newsok.com. Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State...
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