The Chewey Community on the Cherokee Nation suffered greatly in December’s record-breaking floods, with many people losing everything they owned. A private initiative is under way to help them recoup and recover.
“So many people lost nearly all they had after the flooding around Christmas in Chewey,” said Cherokee and United Keetoowah Band citizen Sheila Bird, one of the organizers of a GoFundMe relief campaign, to the Cherokee Phoenix. “I think we have about 20 families who suffered losses that they cannot afford to fix. Myself and a few others got together to see what we could do to help our fellow Cherokees.”
The floodwaters burst over the banks of the Illinois River after a foot of rain fell on Tahlequah and elsewhere in northeastern Oklahoma in just one December weekend.
They roared out of Tenkiller Lake at a rate of 13,000 cubic feet per second when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released them from the dam of the same name on January 1.
While the 18 hardest-hit Oklahoma counties were not in Cherokee territory, the Chewey Community in particular was devastated.
The goal now is to get funds to help people recoup some of their losses, though many items were of sentimental value and cannot be replaced. Canned food and other necessities are being collected for weekly delivery to the Chewy Community Building, said the group, Cherokee Flood Relief. Would-be donors can go to the group’s Facebook page for more information on giving, and the group can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, which is also the place to make a monetary donation via PayPal.
“The floodwaters that rose in December 2015 have devastated many families all over the Cherokee Nation,” Cherokee Flood Relief says on the GoFundMe page. “The rising water took not only their homes, belongings and memories, but also their feeling of hope, comfort and security. We want to do what we can together to make a difference for everyone.”