Family struggles to cope in aftermath of Tar Creek

A family struggles through lead poisoning, a botched home buyout, and crushing A family struggles through lead poisoning, a botched home buyout, and crushing misfortune in the wake of the Tar Creek Superfund site.
By Matt Carney, Staff Writer Modified: October 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm •  Published: October 10, 2010
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photo - Chad Hatfield and his parents Bob and Karen sit in the living room of their new home. The Hatfields previous residence was bought out by the government after the town they lived in was included in the Tar Creek superfund project
Chad Hatfield and his parents Bob and Karen sit in the living room of their new home. The Hatfields previous residence was bought out by the government after the town they lived in was included in the Tar Creek superfund project
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Hatfields' home was deemed ‘high priority' because it was at risk of collapsing. It was bought for $67,400 in November 2008 and demolished.The Hatfields moved into a comparable size house in Miami, but said they can't afford it because of the low offer they had to accept and the medical conditions that keep Chad and Bob Hatfield from working.Karen Hatfield said if their Cardin home had burned down in a fire, they would have received $100,000 in insurance money, enough to cover the $95,000 price of their house in Miami.“We didn't get that with our buyout,” she said. “If we had, we could've come over here and bought this home and never owed anything. We would've been set up, and at our ages, that's what should've happened.”‘We couldn't make it on Social Security'Karen Hatfield, 69, works as a nurse to supplement the couple's Social Security checks. Bob Hatfield, 73, was disabled in a work-related trucking accident in 1987.“We had to change places,” Karen Hatfield said. “I had to be the breadwinner, and he stayed home because he was not able to work for a long, long time.“We couldn't make it on Social Security. Bob makes $1,400 and I make a little over $1,000, and that's what we'd have to live on (per month),” she said. “We don't have a lot left over after you make a big house payment.”‘More goes into it than just a house'The Hatfields got into their car and drove to Cardin, eager to tour through the town where they once lived.“That's a chat pile,” Karen Hatfield said, indicating the first of dozens, maybe hundreds of enormous gray humps that dominate the landscape. “You can see them all along the way.”Chad Hatfield points out the “upsies and downsies” where he used to ride. “We used to cut through there for a shortcut,” he said.Bob Hatfield, who has recently lost a vocal cord to thyroid cancer, spoke up at the sight of the Highway Tabernacle.“I was saved right there in that little church,” he said. “Yeah both of us were,” his wife added before turning to the lot opposite the church. “There's where we lived.”Little is left of where Bob and Karen Hatfield raised four sons, just the stone porches where the back and the front of the house should be.“It's tough,” he said, breathing heavily with tears in his eyes. “More goes into it than just a house. It's a lifetime.”

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