Sep. 24--Dorian Steeber jokes about wanting to change his address "from Bowden Place to Bowden Lake."
"But they wouldn't let me," he said.
Steeber, who has two houses along Manard Bayou, can joke about it now.
However, in late May and early June his home and surrounding homes were flooded by waters of the Arkansas and Grand Rivers, plus its tributaries. He said rising waters from the bayou reached the top of his front door.
Steeber said he and residents around him are still working to make their homes livable again.
"I'm just now putting in insulation," he said, referring to the stone house where he and his wife lived before the flood.
They converted a spare room in their guest house into a studio apartment where they live while they fix the two houses.
Steeber said Federal Emergency Management Agency helped a little with the house.
"But nobody wanted to talk to us about the guest home," he said. "That's understandable. They have to have rules and regulations."
He said he had no flood insurance on his houses.
"We had an elevation survey done, and we were way outside the parameters," Steeber said. "Our regular homeowners insurance wasn't required to do anything. Not only did they not do anything, they dropped us eight days later."
However, he said he received a lot of help from the community and from the Fort Gibson Emergency Resource Center.
District 1 Muskogee County Commissioner Ken Doke said each damaged home is recovering at a different pace.
"It's a slow go," Doke said. "People have immediately did a mud-out and gutted their homes. Some haven't been back at all."
He said he is afraid some families might have left for good.
Doke said FEMA's maximum grant is $34,000, and only eight people received the full amount. He said 833 structures were flooded in the county, and 400-500 families lost everything. He said some families applied for small business loans.
The Muskogee County Disaster Recovery Committee continues to raise money to help affected families, Doke said. The committee recently got a donation of mattresses, he said.
Steeber said people he has known and helped are in different stages of their recovery. He said two neighbors died of heart attacks since the floods.
"For one, the flood demolished his home, then it burned," he said.
Another family, who also had experienced floods in 1986, gave up and moved away after the May floods, he said.
Still, Steeber said "the good Lord has kind of had our backs."
"We're pretty happy other than the fact that we're a long way from recovering," he said.
He said he tore a bicep while doing repairs and hired two men from Muskogee's Gospel Rescue Mission to help with the work.
Steeber said that before the flood he used to let people in need stay at his house as part of a ministry.
"But this whole thing resulted in us helping more people than before the flood, and a lot of people are coming to help us," he said. "Our goal out of all of this is not necessarily to get our property restored, but to help as many people as we can."
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