Hours after a massive tornado ravaged an Oklahoma City suburb Monday, property owners began assessing the widespread damage.
The Apartment Association of Central Oklahoma (AACO) was asking multifamily development owners to report any damages to their apartment communities.
"We are keeping everyone in our thoughts and in our hearts during this trying time,” said AACO in a Facebook post.
The association was asking managers and owners to send a list of vacancies that can be used to house storm victims. It was also asking suppliers and vendors to let AACO know what services it may be able to provide members.
The Oklahoma City Housing Authority said its public housing properties made it through Monday’s storm with little or no damage. Much of the devastation was in the suburb of Moore.
Dozens of people were killed in the community, and the devastated buildings included a hospital and a school.
President Obama signed a disaster declaration, opening the door to federal aid for the hard-hit region.
Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), announced that the agency will speed federal disaster assistance to Oklahoma in addition to resources being provided by Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal partners. HUD will provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to tornadoes and severe storms.
Donovan also reinforced an existing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) policy that mortgage lenders should release insurance payments to homeowners rather than applying these funds toward outstanding mortgage debt.
Last week, twisters swept through Granbury near Dallas, ripping apart a subdivision called Rancho Brazos, where 120 homes were destroyed or damaged, including 58 built by Habitat for Humanity. Six people died, and many were injured.
Granbury and Moore join Tuscaloosa, Ala., Joplin, Mo., and other communities that have been battered by tornadoes in recent years.
Habitat announced a $5 million fundraising initiative to help rebuild homes in North Texas. The GM Foundation pledged the first $500,000 toward the goal.
“Habitat for Humanity’s Disaster Response team has mobilized resources and will work alongside the first responders, volunteers, and Habitat affiliates in the area. Our goal is to help families return home as soon as possible and to help the community recover,” said Kip Scheidler, senior director of Global Disaster Response at Habitat for Humanity, on the organization’s website.
As tornado season kicks in with a vengeance, property owners and managers need to prepare for potential disasters. Heading into the 2012 tornado season, Affordable Housing Finance spoke with two property managers about their emergency preparedness tips. “Most important is to have a mind-set that it could happen at any minute and be prepared for that,” said Gianna Solari, vice president and COO of Orange, Calif.-based Solari Enterprises, Inc.
For emergency preparedness tips, go to http://www.housingfinance.com/urban-development/after-the-storm.aspx.