It is not the threat of winter weather Robert Kerstetter worries about right now. Instead he still focuses on the thirteen inches of rain that forced flood waters into his family homestead last May. The spring storms dumped days of rain in the creek that runs behind his house. That water had nowhere to go except into his children’s bedrooms and the family kitchen. “We lost everything, I mean everything from beds to clothes. We lost everything, everything was molded,” Robert Kerstetter told the American Red Cross.
Part of Robert’s home rests below ground and when the water receded what was left was unlivable. “We’re all cramped. It was a four bedroom home now we’re cramped into two bedrooms and had to make a makeshift kitchen,” stated Robert. The family of five now lives upstairs and with a 9, 10 year old and 11 week old baby and space gets tight.
As the family moved from disaster to recovery waves of assistance have come from the Red Cross. A long-term recovery case manager connected the Kertstetter’s with the volunteer resources to tear out the walls and remove the mold. Now a volunteer work crew from out of state is on site to put up insulation and dry-wall. Every clang of a hammer and buzz of a saw gets them closer to a new-normal.
Stories like this can be found across Pottawatomie County. The Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project (ODRP) is a partnership made up of the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Society of St. Vincent De Paul and the Oklahoma United Methodist Church. ODRP reports that in Pottawatomie County as of December 2nd, 201 individuals have been helped with long-term recovery. Eighty-seven cases have been opened and it is estimated another two-hundred will be opened in the next year to year and a half.
The typical need of the new cases coming in, according to the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project include home repairs, building materials, appliances, well and septic hook ups as well as roof repairs.
“There are so many families in the county that are now realizing they need assistance and we want them to know help is here,” stated Janienne Bella, Red Cross CEO. “The Red Cross was on-site when the storms rolled through and we are committed to staying until needs are met.”
“We had no hope. Nowhere to turn,” said Robert Kerstetter. “We didn’t know what we were going to do and Red Cross has turned our world around with so much hope.”
For people needing recovery assistance from the storms help is available by calling 1-866-477-7276.