Red Cross helping tornado victims find new homes

Posted on: 5:43 pm, April 17, 2012, by and , updated on: 07:57pm, April 26, 2012


NORMAN, Okla. — As Woodward residents continue rebuilding their lives following Sunday morning’s tornado devastation, several residents in Norman are still looking for a home.

Friday, a tornado ripped through an area near 24th Ave. S.W. and Brooks St., leaving many apartment tenants looking for shelter.

A Red Cross shelter held about 19 area residents two nights after the storm but only four residents needed to stay there Monday night.

Tornado victims are receiving help but the trauma of being forced to move remains.

“Oh, I’m so scared to step on here,” Mary Hernandez said, while walking into her apartment Tuesday.

Her floor looks unstable and her apartment is now unlivable.

A tornado didn’t knock down her unit, but when it rolled through her Norman neighborhood…

“I heard like a train, real bad,” she said of the twister’s familiar roar. “I’m home alone by myself, screaming for help. When I heard the shingles were moving, I ran, got up and ran to my closet.”

The tornado did enough damage to make Mary homeless in a matter of seconds.

“That was my home, right here,” she said. “This was going to be my good home, forever. I wasn’t going to move no more. I hate moving.”

We met Mary down the street at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, which is now serving as a Red Cross shelter.

They’re helping her find a new home.

But her apartment neighbor, Jacqueline Brown, is optimistic she’ll be able to move back in.

“They’re devastated and I just feel so blessed that we didn’t lose our possessions and our belongings,” she said of her unfortunate neighbors.

Jacqueline and Mary’s home, The Brooks Apartments, paid for several residents to stay in a hotel for a couple of nights after the storm.

But for a long-term solution, the Red Cross is helping those who can’t return with the paperwork needed to find a new apartment or house.

“We show them that there is hope and that through the process, we’ll work with them one-on-one with a case worker,” American Red Cross Site Director Kenneth Bentley said.

“I’m just so appreciative that they were here for us,” Brown said. “Because we really didn’t know what we were going to do.”

Mary said she found a new apartment and will hopefully move in soon.

The Red Cross might be able to help her and others afford their new rent and get a deposit or rent refund from their old apartment.

The Red Cross said the shelter will be open as long as it’s needed.

For more on information on Red Cross disaster relief and tornado shelter information, log on to http://www.okc.redcross.org