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Some Barnsdall residents complain FEMA help hasn't arrived yet

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jul 02, 2024

BARNSDALL, Okla. — This holiday weekend marks two months since an EF-4 tornado tore through the communities of Barnsdall and part of Bartlesville.

FEMA announced July 2 that it will permanently close the latter's Disaster Relief Center, located at Bartlesville High School's fine arts wing, on July 3 at 6:00 p.m.

The centers located in Sulphur and at Barnsdall High School will remain for now, though.

Barbara Spears told 2 News, she wishes more was done by now to restore her family business, Barnsdall Meat Processors.

The business's ruins lay at the center of what was the path of the May 5 tornado.

"We was inside our plant, our business (sheltering from the tornado in the bathroom)," Spears told 2 News. "Everything just went blown and fallen. And that's about it."

The tornado claimed two lives in Barnsdall, leveling infrastructure and homes throughout its path, including the Spears' business and their adjacent house, both of which are barely visible anymore.

"And my daughter's house was (next door). The (house also) got wiped out," Spears added.

2 News drone footage shows the town still has a long way to go in its recovery.

2 News drone footage over Barnsdall on July 2, 2024

Spears argues the FEMA process is taking too long.

"They came here the day after Memorial Day to look at our house," she said. "We ain't seen nothing, heard nothing yet."

For nearly two months, FEMA's Disaster Recovery Centers have been set up in Barnsdall, Sulphur, and Bartlesville to help with applications and active cases.

"They can get that in-person assistance from a FEMA representative, and the FEMA representative can still help them apply," spokesperson BrianaSummer Fenton said via Zoom. "If they haven't done so yet, they can help them check their application status. They can help them update their application and answer any question they may have."

However, Spears and other Barnsdall residents told 2 News Tuesday they are still waiting for answers from the agency. Denton said if that's the case, applicants should keep contacting online, on the phone, or at the FEMA center in town.

Spears added without her business or her house, her family can't afford a 4th of July celebration and will probably spend it taking care of her chickens that survived the tornado.

"We got a camper at the lake that they let us stay (at) until the end of July," Spears said, later adding she doesn't know what her family will do after the month ends.

The disaster recovery centers in Barnsdall and Sulphur will be closed July 4 for Independence Day but will be open again Friday at 8 a.m.

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