Some Tornado Victims Told They Cannot Rebuild

Wednesday, July 10th 2013, 5:46 pm
By: Karl Torp

Some south OKC neighbors who lost their homes in the May 20 tornado are being told they cannot rebuild.

The 13 homes around 157th St. and St. Clair sit in a FEMA designated floodway. That area is to remain clear of construction to allow water to move through in the event of a flood. OKC's Flood ordinance says it's against the law to build on a floodway.

"What's more disturbing was to learn that we couldn't rebuild because of the change several years ago and they didn't notify us," says homeowner Kelly Reh, who lost two homes and a barn on his 15 acre property.

Reh and his wife moved onto the property 15 years ago, when the land was not in a floodway, but FEMA maps have changed. They only learned about the city ordinance when they tried to get a permit to rebuild their barn on March 24.

A spokesperson with the City of Oklahoma City tells News 9 it is in talks with FEMA and hopes to be able to help out affected homeowners.

"We are looking for all those opportunities to help get people back to normal," says OKC Director of Public Works, Eric Wenger.

Wenger says the city is looking at the possibility of applying for federal grants to financially help affected families find another place to rebuild.

Homeowners who didn't suffer a total loss will be able repair their homes on the floodway depending on the amount of damage the houses sustained.