Creek County Long Term Recovery Group fills unmet needs after 2019 tornado

Tornadoes brought two distinct paths of destruction through Creek County on May 26, 2019, each extending more than 12 miles long and 1,200 feet wide. Numerous structures across the county, including homes, businesses, and schools, sustained serious damage.

The Creek County Long Term Recovery Group (CCLTRG) is a network of faith-based, non-profit, governmental or business organizations and agencies that provided a coordinated recovery effort to the disaster-affected citizens of Creek County.

The group was established after the FEMA-declared May 2019 disaster to meet the unmet needs of those who could not accomplish the repairs to their home that would make them safe, secure, and sanitary.
CCLTRG began with a list of 395 cases of damaged homes in Creek County after the storm, populated by Catholic Charities, the American Red Cross, the Crisis Cleanup list, the Multi Agencies Resource Center (MARC) in Skiatook, and FEMA.

Fortunately, most of these cases fell into the categories of “No help needed” (able to take care of the damage themselves), “cannot help” (certain circumstances did not meet the group’s criteria), or “insurance covered.”

Thirty cases, however, did meet CCLTRG’s criteria, and the organization independently invested $190,274.74 into repairing these homes back to a livable condition.

The final case was brought to the group on May 26, 2021, exactly two years to the day of the tornado, and the last home on the list was repaired and paid for this summer.

Donations to the CCLTRG came from Catholic Charities, United Methodist Oklahoma, the Salvation Army, Blue Flame 47, and in the form of a $30,000 grant from the Tulsa Community Foundation & Tulsa Area United Way Disaster Relief Fund.

Members of the relief organization include Lou Martin, City Councilor and representative of Baptist Disaster Relief, Kathy White from the Salvation Army of Creek County, Dr. Camille Teale with Caring Community Friends, Leon Warner, Creek County Commissioner for District #2, and Suzanne Shirey from the Sapulpa Chamber of Commerce.

“Citizens are still hurting from this disaster and we want to ensure safe, sanitary, secure living space for them,” said Dr. Teale, at the onset of the CCLTRG. Teale is the Vice Chair of the group and Executive Director of Caring Community Friends, Creek County’s largest food bank. CCF also serves as the fiscal agency for the recovery group.

CCLTRG provided coordinated management of long-term recovery to affected residents, including assistance to those who had inadequate personal resources for basic needs. Special emphasis was placed on services for low-income, elderly, disabled and other special needs populations.

Typically, groups of this sort disband after all the community’s needs have been met. However, Teale told Sapulpa Times that CCLTRG will continue past the 2019 tornado damage for several reasons:

One, “to assist our Emergency Management Directors with a current updated contact list where they will know companies and volunteers that would be ready [during] a disaster…[This will] help our community respond faster and recover more quickly.”

Secondly, the “Emergency Management Director could assist teams or groups that could be certified to help in the next disaster and be added to the County contact list. We could assist in locating facilities to be used as shelters; and a food source for meals.”

Ultimately, Dr. Teale says, “Creek County can be prepared for the next crisis by keeping the interest in the community through involvement in a group like this. What a great benefit it will be for Creek County residents to be aware of whom to call during or after a crisis.”

Creek County Long Term Recovery Group fills unmet needs after 2019 tornado | Sapulpa