Natural disasters often take years to fully recover from, but a team will help southern Oklahoma residents do just that over the next few weeks.
An Americorps Corporation for National Community Service group is working for United Methodist Disaster Response Oklahoma to repair damage from flooding and storms in 2015.
Project manager Kevin Walker is overseeing the group, which will repair several homes during their stay. He said his organization connects groups who want to volunteer their time and skills with people who need it, then supplies the tools and materials for the repairs.
“We have volunteers from across the country who help us out,” Walker said. “They’re great because they’re usually here for six weeks to three months. So we can knock out a bunch of jobs.”
The home they’re currently repairing took damage after Tropical Storm Bill sent a tree through its roof in 2015, damaging the decking underneath.
“Two years of leaking takes a heavy toll on the decking, it rots it out, so we’ve had to replace it,” Walker said. “That’s what we see a lot of the time. High winds, heavy rain, water leaks and it becomes a never-ending problem.”
He said the organization works with victims of flooding fairly often. They cleared out flooded homes in Tishomingo, Kingston, Ardmore, Lone Grove, Healdton and Wilson in 2015. He said the organization primarily works with uninsured or under-insured homeowners.
“In this particular case, the roof was in such disrepair that she couldn’t even get insurance because of the damage,” Walker said. “A lot of people may have homeowner’s insurance, but they won’t have flood insurance. They’re kind of dependent on agencies like us and FEMA.”
The NCCC team  has partnered with Oklahoma United Methodist Church’s volunteer and mission disaster response, an organization that works to help people whose homes have been damaged by natural disasters.
This particular team is from AmeriCorps’ southwest region, based in Aurora, Colorado. NCCC is a community service program.
“We’re not quite volunteers, because we do get benefits, but essentially it’s a residential program for people ages 18 to 24,” spokesperson Mariel Godard said. “We work in team-based situations.”
The teams can tackle disaster response work all over the county, ranging from clearing out homes that have been recently effected by storms to repairing damage that’s years old.