EL RENO — Susan Sayre can still remember the sound of softball-size hail pounding on her roof.
The May 31 storm tore up the roof of her El Reno home as she huddled in a bathroom with the family dog and her son, who has autism.
“It sounded like someone was taking a baseball bat to the roof,” she said. “When it hit the ground, it would leave divots in the yard. We waited until it was over, and it really did a job on the roof.”
Making matters worse, her insurance only covered about $3,400 of the $7,500 needed to put a new roof on her house.
“We applied with FEMA and got turned down, and I noticed in the paper they had the recovery center,” she said. “I came down and put an application in, and they said it would take a long time, but it really didn't.”
Sayre was on hand for the opening of The Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project's new office in El Reno. The project is a collaborative effort between the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Oklahoma United Methodist Church.
Kami Kuykendall, human resources director for the Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, said the goal is to provide assistance to victims who are underinsured, uninsured or lack the funds to make storm damage repairs.
“We've come together to form one team that will provide standardized case management services for those impacted by the May 31 storm here in El Reno,” she said. “Our job as case manager is to connect those who need assistance with the resources that can help them. Going through a disaster is overwhelming and we realize the process of reaching out for help is daunting in itself.”
And those in need don't have to come to the office. Case workers will spend much of their time in the field, going to those who need help, Red Cross spokesman Ken Garcia said.
Kuykendall said the center in El Reno will be open for at least two years. The center at 401 S Grand Avenue could process up to 2,000 cases.
Sayre had worked as a registered nurse but is now disabled and unable to work. To be able to stay in her home and get her roof fixed probably kept her from having to move further away from family in the area.
“When you're in my position and you don't have the insurance and you have no way of working to get through it, that is hard,” she said. “I've always worked all my life helping others, so it was nice when I needed help, there was someone there to help me.”
There is also a recovery office in Shawnee, at 322 N Broadway, and one in Moore at 1700 S Broadway, Suite G.
The Red Cross disaster recovery number is (866) 477-7276.