CREEK COUNTY, Okla - The Creek County Assessor is waiving some property taxes for wildfire victims.
JaNell Enlow says she made the decision with the hope that residents will stay and rebuild.
"Raised my kids here, my grandkids love coming out here," said wildfire survivor Irma Underdown, who has lived in Creek County for 41 years.
Now she's left with rubble, but says she's lucky. She has insurance and her faith.
"God has a plan and this was a step to get closer to him," Underdown said.
"It's just amazing how people just open up their hearts to people that have been hurting," she said.
Which is why she is appreciative of the assessor's decision to waive part of her property taxes.
"Every little bit helps, you know? Fifty dollars here, $100 there," she said.
Enlow is waiving the taxes on structures destroyed by fire.
"I just felt the right thing to do for the taxpayers to step up and take the chance," she said.
She says her decision is unprecedented, because the state statute requires payment if the structures existed before May 1.
"I don't know what the repercussions are going to be but we will deal with those whenever they come and handle them in whatever way that we can handle them," Enlow said.
The property taxes primarily fund schools and other county services, but she says she has the support from other county leaders. She thinks loss to these services will be minimal and if it keeps the community together the benefit will be great.
"I'm hoping that these people rebuild and those students stay within that school system by continuing to reside there, if we lose these students, the school system has lost twice," said Enlow.
Underdown is one of those residents with a commitment to stay.
"This is what I call home. I mean I see that flag and I feel proud to be an American," said Underdown.
The property taxes will only be waived for structures and not the land.
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