Mannford couple get recovery help after wildfire
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Friday, October 12, 2012
10/12/12 at 1:48 PM
See photo slideshows of the fire and its damage, view aerial video from Saturday’s inferno and read previous stories.
MANNFORD - It's hard to think of having bypass surgery as a blessing in disguise, but that's how Raymond and Patricia Moore have to look at it.
Had Raymond not been in the hospital, he and his wife - both in their 70s - would have been home when their rural Mannford home burned to the ground on Aug. 4.
Theirs was one of 376 residences reduced to ash in the Creek County wildfires that started Aug. 3. The blaze wasn't completely stopped for another 10 days and left nearly 60,000 acres of scorched earth.
Health-wise, neither was in any condition to spend a frantic 15 minutes trying to save their most cherished items. That's about how long it took for their rock home and Raymond's treasured wood shop and a large shed full of Texas mesquite logs - his favorite to carve with - to go up in smoke.
"It was just about the lowest point of my life," Raymond said, his voice cracking as he recalled how the nursing staff came into his room to deliver the bad news.
The Moores have been staying with a daughter in Tulsa, where Raymond has been recovering from his surgery and working through all the details involved with rebuilding.
The couple carried insurance on their home, which has allowed them to purchase a double-wide manufactured home they plan to move into this weekend, now that most of the rubble has been hauled away.
"It's been a trying time, but we're going to make it," Raymond said.
Town trustee Tyler Buttram and Joe Clayton of the city's water department have so far helped nearly 35 families like the Moores by reconnecting electric, water and septic lines that were melted in the fires.
They aren't charging a dime.
"These guys deserve the best," Raymond said. "(Buttram) worked like a dog trying to get that line back there. He doesn't have any idea how much I appreciate it."
Buttram said Raymond tried to pay him, but Buttram refused. Raymond, instead, has insisted on crafting something special in wood for him. That will be possible since his children did manage to save his sawmill in the nick of time.
"I do quite a lot of turning of everything imaginable - bowls, vases. If it can be made out of wood, I try to make it," said Raymond, who belongs to a woodworking club in Tulsa. "Half of them call me the mesquite man."
Buttram said about 50 households are still on a waiting list to have utility work done.
Donations have slowed since the fire is out of the news, but funds are still needed, Buttram said.
They've spent about $5,000, with $20,000 remaining in donations to the Mannford Chamber Fire Relief Fund on the short-term relief effort.
"I don't think it's soaked in yet. I've been too busy," Patricia said on the reality of losing their home. "I'm ready to just sit down and enjoy the day."
The loss of sentimental items accumulated over 70 years has been hard for the Moores.
Raymond was a 4-year-old boy in Arkansas when he lost his home due to a fire. In response, neighbor women made quilt blocks for him with their names embroidered on them. His mother stitched them into a quilt and Raymond still had it.
Patricia misses her children's locks of hair and her oldest possession, a sticker book from Sunday School showing her perfect attendance as a child.
Buttram said that the immediate recovery effort takes about 100 days, which puts them about 60 days into that effort of getting people back to their homesites with running water and electricity.
But it will be about another 3 1/2 years for the long-term recovery to be over, he said.
Buttram said that Ewing Irrigation has given discounts on sewer and water pipe; Indian Electric Cooperative donated 1,000 feet of electrical line and Davis H. Elliot - Buttram's employer - has donated labor and equipment.
Cash donations for short and long-term recovery needs can be made at any American Heritage Bank in Creek County and the Tulsa metropolitan area. Checks should be made out to the Mannford Chamber Fire Relief Fund and may be mailed to the Mannford Area Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 487, Mannford, OK 74044.
Original Print Headline: Moving back 'home'
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381
Raymond Moore of Mannford holds the front door open for his wife, Patricia Moore. They are in the process of moving into their new home after losing their previous one to the Creek County wildfires that began Aug. 3. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Raymond Moore (left) chats with Mannford town trustee Tyler Buttram inside Moore's new home. Buttram and Joe Clayton of the city's water department have helped nearly 35 families by reconnecting electric, water and septic lines that were melted in the fires. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Raymond Moore of Mannford thumbs through photos of his house that was destroyed by a wildfire early this year. His family is moving into a new home in Mannford. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World