Just when things were looking up for April Ball, things got considerably worse.
April Ball and her husband, Mark, are both in the same profession and both had to stop working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Actually, their hair salons were shut down during the pandemic to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases and deaths, leaving them with zero income.
Things were starting to look up for the Ball family right before the virus outbreak in March. They live in the Town and Country addition of Sand Springs that was ravaged by flooding in May of 2019.
“We were out of our house for technically three months,” April said. “We had to be out of the house for seven days before we could even go into it, but my husband was in school so he did most of the work himself. Not everything is complete. We got in, and we’re still working on it.”
Mark graduated from barber school in December and started working for Chris Tyson Barbering Company in Tulsa, and April is a masseuse at JC Salon, also in Tulsa.
Both were officially laid off around spring break in March. Mark hadn’t been working long enough to qualify for state unemployment, but April filed immediately. She still hasn’t received any financial compensation from the government and it’s been around eight weeks.
“I filed, and, yeah, I still haven’t heard anything back,” April said.
In just under a year, Sand Springs residents in Town and Country and Meadow Valley have dealt with the epic flooding and the coronavirus.
During the flood, the Balls were left with nothing except the frame of their house.
“We lost everything. We got nothing out of our house,” she said. “Clothes, toys — we lost everything. We didn’t get any warning. We’re not in Sand Springs, and Tulsa (County) kind of forgot about us.”
Karen Keith is the Tulsa County Commissioner in charge of Town and Country, and April was pleased with her response, but the Meadow Valley addition, which is in Sand Springs city limits, seemed to get a quicker response from the city.
“Karen Keith is fabulous. She was there every day,” April said. “It hasn’t even been a year since we flooded and I know many in our neighborhood aren’t even back. Some are living in trailers or living elsewhere. Those that had insurance, it’s been such a mess. We were one of the first five (residents) back. There were people that didn’t get back in their house for six months.”
Right before the pandemic shut down the country, the Balls felt like they could see a light at the end of the tunnel, but they were wrong.
“I felt like we got to a point where things were almost normal, and then we started the panic that May was coming and (the flooding) could happen again,” she said.
It wasn’t another flood. It was worse.
On May 1, April and Mark were able to get back to work, but they are still working on their house, and they are trying to get back to normal, financially.
April had enough savings to keep the family afloat for about 30 days. Mark had just finished barbering college and was just getting established in his new career. April was saving money for a trip to Disneyworld in October, but that money was spent on food and necessities.
During their lay-off, the Balls received help from their church, Church That Matters, and from the community. April took advantage of the free food Church That Matters donated, and her three children got food from the meals Sand Springs Public Schools provided.
“We were able to take advantage of those free meals, and I feel like every meal was covered. That was a huge blessing. Without an income you think, ‘how are we supposed to survive?’ Our food was completely covered,” April said.
Both April and Mark are working again, and they hope to see a light at the end of the tunnel.