Helping Oklahomans recover from flooding and have hope

“Thank you to everyone who has helped make this project possible from the Father’s Day storm. Left a hole in my roof big enough to drop a cow in. Had no insurance and hardly any means to do these repairs. And believe without your help, may not have been possible at this time. I am sincerely grateful to all who have helped. Thanks to all of you and God bless you all.” – Clint, a Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma client

In May 2022, eastern Oklahoma experienced severe flooding, leading to devastation across seven counties. A total of 594 homes were impacted, with 259 suffering significant damage and 20 completely destroyed. The storms and subsequent flooding also caused injuries to at least 26 individuals.

Consequently, most affected counties received FEMA Individual Assistance declarations. Unfortunately, several counties were ineligible, leaving affected households to face the reality of not qualifying for federal aid to address their flood-related losses. Even households that received aid struggled to recover.

Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma (CCEOK) has provided disaster case management to disaster survivors for many years. Shortly after the 2022 flooding, CDP’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund provided a grant to CCEOK to support recovery by rebuilding and repairing homes into safe, sanitary, functional and secure living spaces. The grant helped CCEOK build capacity by hiring disaster case managers to assist those who lack insurance or personal funds and guide them through applying for assistance such as FEMA, subsidized small-interest loans and/or funds from a pool of donations to this cause.

“FEMA cannot respond to everyone impacted by the disaster, which puts those living in undeclared counties in a difficult situation; there is very little survivors can do on their own. Therefore, we can say confidently that the aid accessed by clients managed by the CDP-funded Undeclared Cases Coordinator was possible only through CDP’s generosity.” – MaryLynn Lufkin, Disaster Outreach Senior Director

The CDP grant had a profound effect on CCEOK, streamlining collaboration with other organizations and enabling effective assistance for disaster survivors. After hiring a dedicated disaster response staff, CCEOK could refer affected individuals to a specialized team for help. The case managers reached 2,091 households and directly served 193 families. Also, the case management team had the capacity to manage 30 long-term cases.

The grant also provided opportunities to leverage funding from diverse sources. Case managers presented cases at community meetings and acquired funding from non-federal sources, such as Oklahoma United Methodist Church, the Salvation Army and the Muskogee Recovery Group, to supplement CCEOK funds for three additional households. This initiative reinforced immediate disaster response and ensured long-term sustainability through staff retention and forging relationships with emergency managers across various counties.

“We’d like to thank CDP for the opportunity to receive this grant. It positively impacts our organization by allowing us to mobilize more quickly and respond to those having immediate and emergency needs right away… CDP helped Oklahomans to have hope and not give in to despair.” – MaryLynn Lufkin, Disaster Outreach Senior Director

CDP is proud to partner with CCEOK to offer vital disaster recovery aid to small, rural underserved communities.

Story by Juanicia Crump

Photo: A Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma team member with Clint, a client who received services from Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma after the flooding. Photo provided by CCEOK.