It took awhile to get off the ground, but Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity's big contributions to tornado recovery are now underway — on the ground.
Framing was scheduled to start Saturday at 14608 S Hudson in far south Oklahoma City, which, along with Moore, got clobbered May 20. It's the first of six Habitat homes approved for tornado victims. Jose and Ana Herrera and their daughter, Ana, will be there to help, kicking in some of the “sweat equity” required of all Habitat homebuyers.
Continental Resources Inc. is sponsoring the Herrera home — with a $90,000 donation to Central Oklahoma Habitat — and providing volunteers.
Five other tornado-related builds also have been approved: one in Bethel Acres, one in Shawnee and three others in south Oklahoma City/Moore. The Bethel Acres home, sponsored by Oklahoma City's Crossings Community Church, will be dedicated Nov. 9. Framing on the Carney home is scheduled for Nov. 16, with the dedication about a month later.
In addition to donations from individual home sponsors, Central Oklahoma Habitat also received a $1 million gift from Hobby Lobby and shingles from Malarkey Roofing Products.
Central Oklahoma Habitat is ready to build as many as 400 homes over the next three to five years for families that lost houses in the May tornadoes. Others could be eligible for Habitat's Critical Home Repair programs.
Habitat sells safe, energy-efficient, affordable housing at cost and without interest to families that undergo an application process and meet certain requirements, such as volunteering at least 300 hours of “sweat equity.” Special arrangements — including reduced required volunteer hours — may be available for qualified applicants also affected by the tornadoes.
Central Oklahoma Habitat homes are built using several different three- and four-bedroom floor plans with two baths, two-car garage, fenced backyards, and refrigerators, ranges and ovens provided.
For more information about Central Oklahoma Habitat's disaster response, go to www.cohfh.org/index.php/programs/Tornado-Info.
Now is the time to roll up our collective sleeves.
The following bears repeating from the Rev. Richard Norman, coordinator of disaster response for the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Some 15,000 families and individuals registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with 40 percent, about 6,000, uninsured or underinsured, he told a United Church of Christ group recently. The poor, the elderly and the physically and mentally challenged were hardest hit, as usual.
Volunteers descended in late May and June. And July. Then started to trickle.
“Eight weeks after the storm, volunteers began to go home, or go on to the next disaster,” Norman said, which usually happens as life goes on.
He talked about Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, VOAD, a nonprofit that bring together voluntary organizations active in disaster services to foster more effective response. It helps, it doesn't lead, he said, pointing out that both disaster and recovery are local.
And he challenged churches not to forget: “When the church does not do its part, most of these families do not recover,” he said.
For more information about VOAD, go to okvoad.communityos.org/cms/home or www.facebook.com/OklahomaVOAD.