'Resilient' residents in Miami eye future

More rain forecast for flood-soaked region.

BY HEATHER MOYER | MIAMI, Okla. | July 6, 2007

The flooding in Coffeyville, shown here on July 6, was made worse by an oil spill.
Credit: National Weather Service - Wichita, Kan.

Describing Oklahomans as "strong" and "resilient," Patsy Coyne says residents in the flood-wracked community of Miami are already looking to the future.

"By and large our people are real resilient and very strong," said Coyne, secretary of First Christian Church. "We know what we have to do to get things done."

Coyne's church has been serving as a shelter since Monday when water from the Neosho River and Tar Creek quickly inundated the town of 13,600 residents. Residents were fortunate to have some advance warning of this flood, Coyne said, and many people started moving things out of their homes late Sunday and early Monday when the city warned of the flooding.

"I was sending church people I knew all over town to help people move," he said. "We were trying to get things out before the flooding came up."

She added that her church was working closely with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams in town that were feeding people at shelters and mudding out homes. Coyne was seeking a volunteer to manage and prioritize the affected homes that need the mud-out teams. The city of Miami was seeking volunteers for the cleanup efforts as well.

Residents affected in the Ottawa County town are surviving the best they can, Coyne said. Some are near tears but already planning to repair or rebuild their homes once the water fully recedes, she said.

"I talked to one woman whose house has 8 feet of water in it," Coyne said. "She said as soon as the water's out she and her brothers will go to work on it. She's very positive and said, 'It's just stuff.'"

Coyne said she agreed with one Baptist relief team member who told her Oklahomans are strong.

"And we are," she said. "We have a strong faith that God will see us through this and it'll work out."

According to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, initial damage assessments show 836 homes damaged by the flooding in Comanche, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Washington counties. Of those, 240 homes were destroyed, 276 sustained major damage, 164 had minor damage and 156 were affected by the flooding. Another 43 multi-family properties, primarily apartments, also sustained damage; 13 were destroyed and 30 had major damage. Many businesses were also destroyed or sustained major damage.

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