Oklahomans Displaced from Ice Storm Power Outages Receive Relief
As thousands of Oklahomans wait for power to be restored to their homes, those with critical needs are staying at local hotels thanks to funding from OGE Energy Corp. The $500,000 contribution made last week to United Way of Central Oklahoma has enabled the organization to coordinate relief efforts through its nonprofit partner agencies including HeartLine 2-1-1 and Upward Transitions.
Since Oct. 26, HeartLine 2-1-1 has received nearly 6,000 calls from Oklahomans seeking services including emergency shelter, housing assistance, food, transportation, debris cleanup and legal assistance. Callers with critical needs who lost power and those whose homes are uninhabitable due to storm damage are being provided with hotel accommodations. As of Nov. 4, 167 households including 313 adults and 278 children have been sheltered at local hotels through the OGE Energy Corp. donation to United Way of Central Oklahoma.
“I don’t know what we would have done without this help,” said Pamela F., who is staying in a hotel with her husband and 90-year-old father. “My father is on a ventilator and we’ve been without power for over a week. Even when the power is restored, we need an electrician to come out because we received so much damage.”
As of Nov. 4, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported 96,945 power outages remaining statewide, with 65,062 in Oklahoma City. Hotel stays have currently been extended through Friday, Nov. 6, when the majority of power is projected to be restored.
“I want to thank the United Way of Central Oklahoma, and all of the agencies assisting in the effort to help those affected by this unprecedented storm,” said OGE Energy Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Sean Trauschke. “As we work to restore power across our system, we are pleased to be able to support these remarkable organizations as they provide life-sustaining services to those in need.”
In addition to hotel accommodations, boxes of food from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma were distributed three times this week to all of the families being sheltered at hotels.
“I have a family of seven and we lost everything in two refrigerators and a freezer full of food,” said Kristy H., a resident of southwest Oklahoma City. “This food will help get us through and we are so thankful for the help being provided.”
Through the relief efforts, nearly 400 gift cards for groceries and 55 gift cards for gas have also been provided to Oklahomans impacted by the storm.
“We are so thankful for OG&E and our nonprofit partner agencies who have been working around the clock to help during this disaster,” said Debby Hampton, United Way of Central Oklahoma President and CEO. “Due to the high number of calls from those seeking assistance, we’ve enlisted an additional 13 case managers to help respond to the needs. In addition to HeartLine 2-1-1 and Upward Transitions, Sunbeam Family Services, A Chance to Change, NorthCare, Pivot and Positive Tomorrows have all provided case management support.”
While the storm has passed and crews work to restore power as quickly and safely as possible for those affected, Hampton says there will be long-term effects of this disaster.
“Following every disaster we see long-term mental health impacts,” Hampton said. “Many individuals are already experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety from the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding the impact of this devastating ice storm will only worsen those conditions.”
Oklahomans who have been impacted by the ice storm and related power outages and are in need of services may request assistance online at bit.ly/OKicestorm or by calling 2-1-1.