City Weighs Whether Or Not To Allow SW OKC Families To Rebuild After Tornado

Tuesday, July 30th 2013, 5:37 pm
By: Karl Torp

The wrath of the May 20 tornado is still being felt by five families who lost their homes in southwest OKC.

OKC city leaders originally told them they couldn't rebuild because the homes were in a FEMA floodway. A floodway has more strict regulations than a floodplain. Under OKC city law, no structures can be built in a floodway.

The city follows FEMA floodway maps so it can offer the best rates on flood insurance for residents.

The city is now leaning toward allowing the five families to rebuild, just this one time. News 9 has been told by mid-August, the one time exception to build should be official. The homes must be no bigger than the ones that originally stood.

The neighbors near S.W. 158th Street and St. Claire say they just learned about the floodway distinction after they were originally denied permits to rebuild after May 20.

The families fear regardless of being able to rebuild, the "floodway" distinction will still have a negative impact on their property values.

"Our lives have been put on hold, and our future interest in our property has been deemed worthless," says Rhonda Northcutt, who lives in an RV on her property right now.

Neighbors plan to fight Fema on getting their floodway map revised. Making such a change will most likely require an engineering study that the neighbors will have to pay for.

The FEMA floodway map in the area has changed a couple of times in the past six years.