Insurance agencies already on the ground surveying the damage from Sunday's tornadoes were preparing to reorganize after another round of devastating storms hit the central part of the state Monday.
An emergency declaration issued early Monday by Insurance Commissioner John Doak allowed out-of-state insurance appraisers to handle claims more quickly. Agency spokeswoman Kelly Collins said many appraisers contacted the Insurance Department to fill out a required form so they could begin working.
In Shawnee and Carney, tornadoes caused a small number of intense, large losses, said John Wiscaver, vice president of public affairs for Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance. Agents were instructed to expedite claims, giving customers the funds to find temporary housing and fulfill immediate needs such as clothing.
After another tornado swept through Moore and Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon, and the potential for others remained high Monday evening, field representative Amanda Riddle said the Insurance Department planned to regroup late Monday and determine where to set up Tuesday.
Doak was in Shawnee on Monday morning with other state and local officials, assessing the damage. A command center has been set up at The Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, 1700 W Independence, Shawnee, giving victims a centralized location to find assistance from insurers as well as disaster relief agencies.
Doak estimated 100 to 150 insured home losses and “many, many more uninsured” from the Shawnee tornado. Many of the victims either leased or rented a mobile home and did not have insurance, he said.
“In Oklahoma, unfortunately, we just have too many disasters. You can't afford not to have it,” Collins said.
Several entities were offering assistance to tornado victims Monday, including Oklahoma Baptist University and U-Haul. The university made 350 beds in its dorms available as temporary housing until May 29; the university said it couldn't accommodate pets or smoking. To arrange housing, call Michael Burns at 308-7336.
And U-Haul Co. of Oklahoma City offered 30 days of free self-storage to state residents affected by recent severe storms and tornadoes. U-Haul centers also stock supplies needed for tornado recovery, including boxes, tarps, propane and propane tanks.
“These recent tornadoes and severe storms that are sweeping through areas of Oklahoma have proven to be absolutely devastating and have caused a great deal of damage throughout the communities we serve,” said Brett Hogan, president of the company's marketing group. “I hope this effort will help provide assistance to ... residents who need support. We will do our best to help our friends and neighbors in this time of need.”
For more information, contact U-Haul's regional office in Midwest City at (800) 522-4236.
At a glance
Tips for homeowners, renters and business owners
• Immediately contact your insurance agent or a company representative.
• Inspect property and cars for damage.
• Inventory the losses and photograph the damage. Save related receipts to assist with claims handling.
• Secure property from further damage or theft.
• Check the background and legitimacy of repair contactors. Ask your insurance company for assistance locating a reputable contractor.
• Keep detailed records of business activity and extra expenses during the interruption period. Prepare records to show the income from the business before and after the loss.
Source: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.