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Oklahoma tornado victims take steps toward rebuilding

An American flag flies over a destroyed neighborhood in Moore, Okla.

It seems like life is always handing out lessons about what you can and can't control. In your financial life -- and life in general. In small ways and sometimes really big, terrible ways. The pictures out of Moore, Okla., are heartbreaking. A tornado ripped through the town of more than 55,000 people earlier this week. What happened in Moore, Okla., is a sad story, a reminder of how precious life can be. It's also a personal finance story -- one about people who've lost everything that they have, everything they've worked for. Logan Layden, a reporter for the State-Impact Project in Oklahoma, joins us to talk about what's next for Moore.

"The first time I went there was on Monday evening, just a few hours after the storm. Just kind of drove through and it was utter devastation," says Layden. "The long, difficult process of cleaning this mess up is well underway. Streets have started to be cleared, things like that, roadblocks taken down. We're starting to see the process move along a little bit of people getting their lives back together."

Layden says after covering the basics (finding food, shelter, water, making sure their loved ones are OK) the first step of recovery for many residents is insurance. Layden says a group of insurance company tents have been set up in a church parking lot in Moore to help people get their claims expedited more quickly.

"You see a lot of people, everybody understands that it's important. Even though you're dealing with a disaster that's cost you a lot of property, maybe even lives, that there's important work still to be done. If you want to get the full amount of help that you feel like you deserve, then you've got to get right on that immediately," he says. "It's still a huge hassle for these people who are trying to deal with the fact that they've lost everything to have to now worry about making an inventory of the things that they owned and talking in great detail to adjusters about it."

Layden says most people in Moore have homeowner's insurance and that victims of the tornado will get paid more quickly than you might think. He says there is a process in getting aid.

"You've got to do the hard work of doing these inventories and talking to an adjuster and then getting your claim at least filed. And then going to FEMA and filing a claim there for whatever other assistance that you feel like you need. Then you're going to have a visit from an insurance adjuster to the property and then from FEMA as well. So it's a lot to have to deal with, but those steps are happening right now."

Despite the destruction, Layden says that the sense he gets from most people is that they are going to rebuild.

"There's a lot of resolve," he says. "There's a big sense of community. I think they'll rebuild just like they did in 1999 when a similar storm caused great devastation in the town."

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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