Harrowing stories abound from Lawton's latest flood
This community got hit hard last Sunday with the heavy rain and flooding. Stories range from stalled cars, pools flooding, and homes devastated with damage from water, mud and debris, to dramatic, lifesaving rescues.
At the time Lawton was getting slammed by the storm, I was cheerfully driving the turnpike home from Tulsa, under sunny skies with only a glimmer on the horizon of what was happening here.
But two of my co-workers have stories of all hell breaking loose on the east side. One girl was driving with her husband to pick up her infant son, on a country road just on the edge of the city limits, when they had to turn around due to water on the road. As they made their way back, suddenly they faced water behind them on the road that had been dry just seconds before. Their bumper touched the water, and they were swept away into a field and a patch of trees. They had to climb out of their truck and into the truck bed, where they managed to grab onto a tree and hold on for dear life, where they stayed for some three hours.
Another co-worker's family was staying in a warehouse apartment on some property that I actually own; it's a metal building with no windows. The woman, 18-year-old boy and 5-year-old granddaughter were inside when the water came in. They left the building, and the young man got his mother and niece to a nearby fence with their dog in tow, I might add where they, too, held on for dear life until they could be rescued.
A passer-by happened to see them from the road and went to get someone with a boat, who paddled out there and loaded them up.
The woman (and child, I assume) could not swim and was absolutely terrified. The water was up to their shoulders, and rushing past them in the rapid waters were trees and all sorts of debris, missiles that could kill someone if it hit them right.
Those are two stories of hundreds here. Meanwhile, people all over town have begun the long process of cleaning and drying out. It can be very discouraging. In this humidity, drying out can take some time, especially when it comes to furniture, carpet and inside the walls.
And I've said it before: If your car floods, don't start it until it can be checked and flushed out properly. It needs to be towed in for service, or serviced on the spot. Do not start that car.
Call me naive, but I am hopeful there will be some sort of aid for the people who were impacted by this disaster. Everyone should take lots of pictures and save their receipts. Most of us had no flood insurance; this water came in differently than what we are used to. Homes, businesses, land, all flooded for the first time ever, flooded where it really shouldn't be flooding.
Rumors abound. I have heard it called a 500-year flood. Someone else said that has not been confirmed. There are other rumors out there that are best not repeated here until the facts are straight.
In order for FEMA to determine whether we can be declared a disaster area, they need to hear from everyone affected by the floods. An official from the Comanche County Emergency Management office has said that while the office estimates over 300 homes have been damaged, only about 160 have reported. It is critical to get this information on record as they talk to FEMA this week to assess the situation.
People with flood damage should call the office, to report the damage, 355-0535.
Meanwhile, prayers, patience and hard work are what is needed. And money!