Raymond and Rose Sanchez lost everything in the Midwest floods this summer, and now in Shawnee, they are faced with trying to make it on their own without shelter, money or food.


Raymond and Rose Sanchez lost everything in the Midwest floods this summer, and now in Shawnee, they are faced with trying to make it on their own without shelter, money or food.
The couple, originally from Columbus, Ind., were hit by the heavy rains and swelling rivers June 3. The flood waters destroyed their entire town, Rose said.
Raymond and Rose were forced to leave their home and stay in an American Red Cross shelter. Their plans were to drive from Indiana to Shawnee before going to California, but those plans changed when their cars were three-fourths of the way under water. They were coming to Shawnee because Raymond is a Citizen Potawatomi Nation member.
Raymond said a homeless shelter, Horizon House, bought them bus tickets to Oklahoma City.
“We left with three travel bags with all of our clothes, a tent and $4,” Raymond said, adding the couple had 96 cents when they arrived in Oklahoma City July 16.
According to American Red Cross documents, the couple has received a total of $350 for emergency needs and are listed on the national disaster registry. Raymond said that is what they received from the very beginning. That money was used for food, shelter and clothes, he said.
Raymond said before they left Indiana, he asked if the couple would be able to receive additional assistance from American Red Cross in Oklahoma. Indiana officials said they would, he said.
Once in Oklahoma City, Raymond and Rose had to find a way to Shawnee, and ultimately to the American Red Cross office in Shawnee.
“We talked to Katie (Noffsker) when we were in Oklahoma City,” Rose said. “She told us she understood and everything would be fine once we got to Shawnee.”
Katie Noffsker, American Red Cross service center manager for central Oklahoma, said she told the couple if they could get to Shawnee, she would see how her office could help.
Raymond said the couple searched for a way to get to Shawnee, but they weren’t finding a way. It wasn't until a pastor of an Oklahoma City church offered to give them a ride and a box of food.
“We were able to eat for a couple more days,” Raymond said.
While in the Shawnee area, the couple has received help from residents and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. They currently are staying at the CPN Powwow Grounds in a tent until Wednesday, which is how long CPN allowed the couple to stay free of charge.
“There are really good people here,” Raymond said.
Raymond said they ran into trouble Thursday when they visited the Red Cross office in Shawnee. They were looking for assistance, but American Red Cross was unable to help with their immediate needs.
“We asked them what we needed to do to get food,” he said. “We’ve got some shelter and clothes, but we need food.”
Raymond said the Red Cross wasn’t able to help unless they get housing or bring their three children to Shawnee. The couple left their children in Indiana with family until they were able to get housing and food.
“They want me to bring my kids here to nothing,” Raymond said. “We eat once a day and walk five miles. There’s no way I would do that.”
Rose said, “We’re not looking for hand-outs. We were told they would help us. It would be much different if we were sitting on the corner begging. We’re trying to do things for ourselves.”
Noffsker said it’s Red Cross’ policy to help one family, one time per disaster. She said since the couple has received help in Indiana, her office couldn’t provide additional assistance because it wouldn’t be fair to other families.
“Red Cross believes in equal service,” she said, adding if her office helps the Sanchez family now, hundreds of families would be coming to the Shawnee office asking for additional assistance. She said she also offered referrals to other local charitable organizations.
“We cannot provide a service that is not within our scope,” Noffsker said. “Sadly, what we are left with is a misunderstanding or a gap of services of local organizations.”
Noffsker said she told the couple about Salvation Army’s hot meal service during the evenings, but their dilemma is they don’t have transportation.
Raymond said they have to walk five miles one way to reach the Salvation Army. If the couple arrives in Shawnee before the kitchen opens, they will have to wait, he said.
“I will do that, because I have to,” he said.
Raymond found a job in the Tecumseh area, but it will take time for the couple to accrue money.
“We’re not trying to get anything for free,” Raymond said. “We’re just trying to establish ourselves.”
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Amanda Gire may be reached at amanda.gire@news-star.com or at 214-3934.