By CHRIS EVERSOLE
Federal assistance is helping Canadian County recover from the double disasters that hit the county in the spring – in the form of flooding and a tornado that killed two people on May 25.
The county has been notified of the amount of assistance from individual grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Management Director Andrew Skidmore told the county commissioners Monday.
Additional help will be available from Small Business Administration loans and through federal assistance to units of government.
Also, the county has activated its Long Term Disaster Recovery Committee, which is coordinating assistance to people who don’t quality for other help.
FEMA provided 198 homeowners and renters with $610,071 in grants for damage from the flooding and the tornado, said FEMA spokeswoman Sharon Karr.
The grants were part of $17.7 million for 5,492 applicants in 27 Oklahoma counties for damage in the spring.
FEMA, state officials and local officials from throughout the county worked well together, Skidmore said.
“We had a tremendous team,” he said.
FEMA representatives knocked on doors of residents and operated a disaster assistance center from two trailers for two weeks, he noted.
“It was very time-consuming for everyone,” Skidmore said.
The last day to apply for the individual grants was Aug. 14, Karr said.
Application for SBA loans are still available.
Skidmore, himself, has qualified for one of those loans – covering damage to his home in El Reno when the door to his cellar blew off, causing flooding that destroyed one wall of his foundation, causing the walls to become skewed.
His loan approval illustrates the low cost of SBA disaster loans.
Skidmore has been approved for a $33,100 loan with an interest rate of 1.93% and a payment of $124 monthly.
Skidmore is working with his insurance company to see how much it will pay before he decides if he will borrow the full amount for which he has been approved.
SBA disaster loans can have terms of up to 30 years, the agency’s website said.
As for the long-term assistance committee, Catholic Charities is serving as the case manager for assistance from various groups, primarily nonprofits.
“We want to help people who slipped through the cracks,” Skidmore said.
“There may be a situation in which someone needs $10,000 in roof repairs, and groups can provide $8,000 in free labor,” he said.
Property owners are still in the process of making their rebuilding plans.
The Frontier Dodge dealership is planning to rebuild from the tornado, El Reno officials said last week.
The tornado also damaged a motel and destroyed the Skyview Mobile Home Park when it touched down for four minutes at 10:30 p.m. May 25 near U.S. 81 and State Highway 66.