Elk City Recovering Piece By Piece

Tuesday, May 23rd 2017, 5:34 pm
By: Grant Hermes

Families in Elk City got a scare one week after a devastating tornado tore through town. The city said it would start charging them for dropping off debris at local landfill. 

It started as an innocent post on Facebook to residents of Elk City reading, "attention today is the last day to bring your debris free of charge to the landfill. Tomorrow normal fees will apply."

The post sparked backlash like one woman who wrote "sad...that our city put greed over the people's need at a time like this."

But the mayor, Bill Helton, says it was all just a misunderstanding. The post was referring to demolishion damage like sheetrock from houses being torn down.  

The city saying later it will continue to pick up curbside for another week. 

"If they will take it to the curb, if they will take it to the alleys, the city is still picking that up and will continue to pick that up," Helton said. 

Dumping fees and costs should be covered in any basic homeowner's insurance policy, according to Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. He added that it shouldn't take insurance companies longer than a week and a half to get out to damaged areas. Anything longer than that he called "unacceptable" saying it should be reported to the department. 

But the clean-up in Elk City has been slow no matter how long it takes claims adjusters. Insurance reps have spent days on end at houses trying to assess the damages for homeowners like Linda Andresen whose home was deemed a total loss, despite appearing to sustain little damage at first glance. 

"It's a struggle every day," Andresen said in front of her newly condemned house. "you don't realize how many things that you've owned. At least we're able to find them, they didn't get blown completely to Kansas." 

So for now they and many others are relying on volunteers coming from across the country to help put the pieces back in place. 

Many are looking for families to help but so far coordination has been slow. Helton is encouraging Elk City residents to call city hall to give their name, phone number, address and kind of help they need. 

The number for city hall is (580) 225-3230.