“It feels wonderful,” Sadie Price says about the new apartment she found less than 10 days after being displaced by the July 9 fire at the Greenleaf Apartments.
Other displaced residents, however, continue to wait.
About 25 of the apartment’s 120 residents had found permanent housing as of July 22, said Katy Marshall, adult specialty services supervisor at Green Country Behavioral Health.
GCBH has been helping displaced residents find permanent housing and other assistance. A team from GCBH has been at the Comfort Inn Hotel, where several dozen residents found temporary housing. The team has helped residents find subsidized housing, fill out and turn in forms.
“Any kind of case management stuff they need,” Marshall said. “We’ve been tracking residents on an ongoing basis, like who has found housing, who is still in the hotel.”
As of Tuesday, 31 residents remained at the hotel, she said.
Displaced residents are returning to their apartments to get their belongings.
Corey Byrd lived in a third-floor apartment, which was not seriously damaged. She said she had some smoke damage.
She spent Tuesday evening packing her belongings.
Byrd said she’s staying at the Comfort Inn. She said she thinks the lodging will be paid for through Aug. 3 or 4.
“I guess they’re trying to house us through the housing authority,” she said. “Other than that, we’re just there.”
Her nephew Jason Byrd came by to help her. He also offered to help other displaced residents move their furniture and belongings.
“When this fire took place, I felt people are going to need help,” Jason Byrd said. “And I just knew me and my team could play a big part in this.”
He said he put a notice on social media that he would be at the complex and received several responses. He said he knows of churches and businesses that also are helping.
Marshall said GCBH also has been working with several agencies, including American Red Cross, Department of Human Services, Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency, Muskogee Housing Authority and KI BOIS. They worked especially closely with Muskogee Emergency Management.
“It’s been really amazing, I’ve been really blessed to be able to help with this,” Marshall said. “Just seeing the community come together and step up. We’ve had churches that have helped transport people.”
Price said she lived on the second floor at Greenleaf, right below the apartment where the fire started.
“I got out because the person who lived above me started hollering ‘fire’ and was throwing something off their balcony,” she said. “Some of it landed on my balcony, setting it on fire. I guess they panicked.”
She said she stayed at an American Red Cross shelter at Muskogee Civic Center for several days after the fire.
“They had Muskogee housing people come to the Civic Center and had us fill out applications for different locations,” Price said. “The mayor said that whoever calls you first and has an apartment for you, please take it.”
She said she found a home at Fair Haven Senior Residences, a federally-subsidized complex, the Friday after the fire and began moving into her first-floor apartment the following Monday.
Price, who served at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, also got help through veterans programs. She said she got help through a social worker through the women’s clinic at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.
She said The Barracks, a Muskogee veterans aid program, got her a recliner, new clothes and a new bed from Bob Loftis Furniture. The Barracks volunteers also will bring her more donated furniture later this week.
The Barracks CEO Victor Lezama said the program helped four veterans’ families displaced by the fire.
“All the families have been placed in different housing,” Lezama said. “The Red Cross had a veteran social worker who specializes in buying them housing. They were all successfully housed last week.”
Price said she used money from the Red Cross to buy some pots and pans. VA also gave her some dishes, pots, pans and silverware.
“I can’t believe how quickly everyone jumped in to help,” Price said.
You can help
• According to the Neighbors Building Neighborhoods website, people wanting to help pay for clothing or household items for people recovering from the July 9 Greenleaf Apartments fire may text GREENLEAF to 5055. A one-time donation of $10 will go to the Muskogee County Disaster Relief Fund in support of those affected by disaster in Muskogee County.
A one-time $10 donation will be added to your phone bill. Messaging and data rates may apply. For full terms, go to hmgf.org/t.