Oklahoma residents face daily roadblocks on the way back to normal lives after May's storms

BY CARMEN FORMAN cforman@opubco.com Modified: July 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: July 4, 2013
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— For the hundreds of people who lost homes in May's tornadoes, the shock of the event is being replaced by the endless details of restoring normalcy to their lives.

Newcastle resident Shelly Codner knew her home was gone before she emerged from her storm shelter May 20.

“In a matter of minutes, this beautiful neighborhood, this 3,800-square foot home, four vehicles and my husband's business were gone,” she said.

It took days at her sister's house in southwest Oklahoma City for the reality of what happened to sink in, and in some ways it still hasn't, she said.

Hers was one of 1,307 homes destroyed in the storms, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Another 1,506 homes in nine counties sustained damage.

Federal aide

Codner has spent days dealing with insurance agents, Federal Emergency Management Agency employees, Small Business Administration consultants and American Red Cross volunteers.

After the tornado, Codner went to the Red Cross multiagency resource center at Westmoore High School. She waited for six hours before her application was started. When she went back the next day, her handwritten Red Cross file was lost.

The center provided immediate assistance or referrals for housing, transportation, food and other needs.

But the needs of victims sometimes outstrip resources. Codner has been paying $350 a week in rental car charges because her four cars were either lost or destroyed. Her policy didn't include a rental provision because she assumed if one was damaged she would have three others to drive.

Insurance

She received a quick settlement from her insurance company for her home and contents, but has been waiting for insurance money for the vehicles.

More than 70,000 people have filed insurance claims for recent storms, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said.

Debra Shelley lost her modular home in the tornado and assumed she had full coverage. She was shocked when her insurance company said her mobile home with six bedrooms and three bathrooms was worth $149,000, but because of depreciation she would only receive $65,000.

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