Oklahoma victims still recovering 18 months after ‘500-year flood’

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OKLAHOMA - Do you remember the historic flooding of 2015?

It's been 18 months since the '500-year flood' disaster ravaged parts of Oklahoma, and still hundreds of residents are trying to get fully recovered.

The summer of 2015 was a deluge.

"Places that had never been flooded in 500 years saw water at heights no living person could remember," said Patrick Raglow, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

Flooding is a hidden disaster for many Oklahomans.

Once the water recedes, so does the attention and the money.

"This particular group is utterly forgotten. Nobody's talking about the 2015 floods," Raglow said.

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is now focusing in on the forgotten.

"That's one of the challenges we've seen: helping clients get back to a safe, sanitary secure home," said Catholic Charities' Kaylinn Mayfield.

Mayfield and others are reaching out to residents who have unmet needs.

All Catholic Charities administrative costs were paid for by a special grant, so 100 percent of the donations for the effort will go toward those who were affected by the floods.

Sharon Chisum found herself and her south Oklahoma City home in the crosshairs of an EF3 on May 6, 2015.

"We could hear stuff outside the storm cellar. It was like it was moving the storm cellar."

The tornado ripped off the roof off and left serious damage all over the property.

Chisum paid $53,000 in insurance money and her own savings to rebuild her home, and it's still a mess.

There are problems with the repair work inside and outside where the fence was never finished and the siding is already coming loose.

"We're not trying to get them from a mobile home to a 'McMansion.' We're just trying to get them back on their feet to the condition they sort of enjoyed before the storms hit," Raglow said.

According to Catholic Charities, there are hundreds of 2015 victims in 45 counties who are still not back on their feet.

They are mostly flood victims who were uninsured or under-insured.

2015 victims are not eligible for the millions that came in after the 2013 tornadoes in Moore and south Oklahoma City.

Unfortunately, different disasters solicit different responses.

In 2013, more than $130 million in donations came into Oklahoma from around the world.

But, in 2015, after the flooding, Catholic Charities received just $10,000 in donations.

2016 has been relatively quiet in Oklahoma.

So, as the end of the year approaches, Catholic Charities is hoping Oklahomans and Oklahoma companies might consider helping out those who fell on hard times last year.

"Any corporation who has dollars set aside for this year's event, I'd like them to think that this year's event happened last year and still needs attention," Raglow said. "There's a lot of help that's already gone on helping people muck out houses and clean up debris. But, the remaining needs are still unaddressed."

Click here to donate to Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

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