By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Family, friends and Habitat for Humanity volunteers all huddled around to support new homeowners in Moore on Sunday for the first home dedication since the May 20 tornado.
“We’re relieved that the home is still here after the tornado,” new homeowner James Underwood said. “We were living in a two-bedroom apartment with four kids.”
James and Naida Underwood will hopefully begin moving into their new home by next weekend with children Sharon, Amellia, Jerome and Joslyn. The children range in age from two to 12.
The dedication was delayed for about a month after the new home sustained some roof damage when the tornado hit Moore. Some signs of damage from the storm were still visible in the neighborhood Sunday and the weather was gloomy, but the Underwood’s spirits were high and hopeful as they claimed their new home.
“I’m excited,” Naida Underwood said. “(The kids) are excited, now they get their own room and they have a yard to play in.”
During the dedication Underwood thanked her family, friends, their church family and everyone who worked on the home.
“You guys have been my support, my rock. We could never have gotten this done without you guys,” she said.
As tears welled up in the eyes of several, Linda Banta, executive director for Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity, said it is days like this that make it all worth it.
“This is the day when we say, ‘this is why we do this, because of families like you,’” Banta said.
Underwood said she and her family are really grateful to Habitat and all of the people in the community who cared enough to make this dream happen for them.
“This is a new beginning for Moore. It’s a new family moving into the first home they will own,” Banta said.
Board President Phillip Graham said in the very near future, Habitat for Humanity is going to play a big role in helping rebuild the community of Moore. Graham said if anyone is interested in volunteering to help with that process, contact the Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity .
To learn more about how to volunteer visit cchfh.org/volunteer or call Habitat’s volunteer coordinator at 405-360-7868.