Editor’s Note: At Linked Moore West, we are constantly striving to bring hyper-local content to the surrounding community. In our efforts to present relevant content, we also work hard to ensure that our stories are written with honesty and accuracy. However, occasionally, mistakes happen, and when they do, we are committed to correcting and learning from them.
In our April 2016, we ran a story entitled, “A New Place to Grow.” It has come to our attention that the story contained some factual errors. Below is a corrected version of the story. We hope that this version will help mitigate any of the harm caused by our mistakes. We sincerely apologize and thank you for your continued readership.
Three years after a devastating F5 tornado tore through the town of Moore, the lives of most of those affected have finally returned to normal. For some, their lives are even better than before, with brand new homes from Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity.
Along a 17-mile path, over 1,100 homes were completely destroyed and an additional 1,500 were damaged in wake of the half hour span of the tornado. The disaster caused nearly $2 billion in damages and claimed the lives of 24 people.
One of the first response teams on the scene was the Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity (CCHFH). Immediately after the storm, Habitat distributed trailers around the metro area to collect donations of food, water, diapers, etc. for victims.
Linda Banta, current CEO and Executive Director, was serving as Interim Director at the time of the 2013 Moore tornado.
“We put our donation truck and trailer in the parking lot at Lowe’s in Norman and started taking donations of water, food, personal hygiene items, and diapers,” Banta said. “The City of Moore got so many donations that they stopped taking anymore, so we took our truck load and trailer load to Bethel Acres and Little Axe to be distributed.”
In 2013, Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity committed to rebuilding ten homes for ten families affected by the tornado. As of Spring 2016, six of these homes have been completed and two are currently in progress. Looking to the coming months, CCHFH is still working to rebuild homes for four more families.
With the help of the community and a grant from United Way of Central Oklahoma, Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity has been able to purchase a tornado shelter for each new home. Many local charities have donated to Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity to help complete these homes.
The first of the ten homes completed, finished in February 2015, was for Yannet Hodson and her son, who lost all of their belongings in a matter of minutes.
The home-building process took about a year after the application acceptance and Yannet and her son put in over 300 hours of work on the construction of their house, which is expected of every family who receives a Habitat home.
“Our homeowners work for their home by putting in 300-350 hours of sweat equity and making a house payment,” Banta said. “The greatest benefit they receive is a zero interest mortgage which cuts their house payment about in half.”
On the day of the Hodson home dedication, family and friends gathered to celebrate the start of a new chapter in the family’s life.
“It means so much for the both of us. It’s a new beginning. It’s hope. It’s a bright future. It’s just giving you that push to continue on in life, so I cannot be happier,” Hodson said.
Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity is currently beginning work on the seventh home for victims of the Moore tornado. Mike and Jessica Bradley, the newest accepted applicants, are hoping this new home can provide a safe environment for their two young daughters to grow. Jessica says all she wants is to “give our girls the home we never had.”
Much of the funds that build Habitat homes come from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which sells new and used donated furniture, building materials, appliances and other household items. Cleveland County opened a new ReStore location in August 2015 in Norman after growing out of their previous smaller location.
“Our ReStore pays all our expenses – salary, rent, vehicle expense, all expenses AND helps us build homes,” Banta said. “Families were helped with the donations we collected and they were able to obtain items at a nominal price from our ReStore to replace things they had lost.”
Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity is always looking for help to make a difference in the lives of as many families as possible. Donations can be brought to their ReStore, at 1100 W. Main St. in Norman, or pickup service can be arranged. Information about volunteering and monetary donations can be found on the CCHFH website (cchfh.org) or by phone at (405) 360-7868.