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Cherokee Co. leaders to appeal Feb. FEMA ruling

Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 17:40:32-05

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Okla.  - The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission announced Wednesday morning that the Illinois River isn't expected to flood from this week's rains.

Many who live along Highway 10 and the Illinois River say it's been a battle to rebuild in the past few months following the historic flooding in December. Currently the state of Oklahoma says they are working to convince FEMA that residents need more assistance.

One resident, Preston Creason, has been forced to replace many of his things after five feet of water flooded his home back in December.

“It's devastating, everything you've accumulated and worked for is just wet,” said Creason.

This week, after three months of gutting and rebuilding, Creason is finally able to return home.

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to do this, but I know folks down the road who haven't even started rebuilding because they don't have the means to do it,” he said.

Many are still hoping that FEMA funds can help them restore their homes.

The federal agency agreed to give Oklahoma nearly $114,000 for public infrastructure after the floods hit, but they denied any individual assistance, leaving homeowners on their own.

“They're starting pretty much again, and it's been hard on them,” said Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Mike Underwood.

Emergency management agencies across the region are now working to gather as many photos, videos and any type of damage documentation in order to appeal FEMA's decision for individuals.

“Nowadays a lot of folks have smartphones so they were snapping away, they might not have realized what they were helping themselves with,” said Underwood.

State emergency managers have until Saturday, March 12 to finalize the appeal to FEMA. Creason says every little bit counts when you're rebuilding your life.

“Everything I’ve done here has been out of my pocket,” said Creason. “This is just my home. This is where I grew up, this is where I'm living. This is where I want to stay.”

Homeowners won't know exactly how much they'll receive from FEMA until that individual assistance is approved.

If you'd like to send in photos before the March 12 appeal, you can email them to Oklahoma Emergency Management at info@oem.ok.gov.