Hamlet native aims to help Oklahoma flood victims


By Kevin Spradlin

More than 40 tornadoes have touched down in Oklahoma since the start of May, but that isn’t Victoria (nee Livingston) Johnson’s most pressing concern.

The Hamlet native, her husband Weldon Johnson and their 16,000 neighbors are trying to weather the series of storms that have flooded much of their living space. Located approximately 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, more than one-third of the city of Chickasha (chick-a-shay)  is situated within a Special Flood Hazard Area. Living there comes with its pleasures, to be sure, but also with its perils.

Submitted photo The streets of downtown Chickasha are flooded, though waters are receding.

Submitted photo
The streets of downtown Chickasha are flooded, though waters are receding.

Johnson, a 1987 Richmond Senior High School graduate and former Raider track and cross country star, said homeowner insurance policies held by families don’t cover flooding — so they’re largely on their own to recover from this week’s devastating floods.

The Washita River and adjacent creeks all crested, flooding the downtown area. Media accounts show the water to be at least waist high, and Johnson said some areas report 6 feet or more of standing water. As of Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service issued a Flood Warning for Chickasha and all of Grady County through Friday. The Washita River was at 20.9 feet; the flood stage is 19 feet.

While the water is receding, Johnson said there seems to be “tornadoes and floods just about every other day.”

The Johnsons moved from Roanoke, Va., four years ago to be closer to family. Her brother, Franklin Stubbs, is a coach for the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the Triple AAA affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Submitted photo Victoria Johnson said flood waters have been as high as 6 feet.

Submitted photo
Victoria Johnson said flood waters have been as high as 6 feet.

“We’re doing okay,” Johnson said. “Our home has not gotten flooded out. It’s a miracle, because one block away people can’t pass through this street because the flood … in front of Lincoln Elementary School is nothing but water.”

Johnson said many people live in homes within the flood plain, but it comes with the territory.

“The land is so flat out here, it’s hard not to buy property in a flood zone,” she said.

At one point this past weekend, the city of Chickasha received 6 inches of rain in only a few hours’ time, Johnson said.

“That’s scary,” she said. “When you see the authorities have to come out … 21 people had to be rescued over the weekend … people couldn’t get out of their homes.”

Johnson is active with a local church, 1st and Georgia Church of Christ. The church is helping at least two families, including one with a 15-month-old girl, who have lost their homes to flood waters.

“Their insurance does not cover a loss during floods,” Johnson said. “That happens to a lot of us out here.”

Johnson is hoping some friends back home in Richmond County might be willing and able to lend a helping hand.

Submitted photo Victoria Johnson said these two women are part of a family who have been forced from their home due to rising flood waters.

Submitted photo
Victoria Johnson said these two women are part of a family who have been forced from their home due to rising flood waters.

“It would be cost effective to send gift cards, from stores like Walmart, Sam’s, Lowe’s and furniture companies so that the victims can replace their furniture, clothes, linen, appliances, food and personal hygiene items,” Johnson said. “Also, they may send money orders in the church’s name so that the trustees can help the victims with a down payment on an affordable house or apartment.”

Without private, outside assistance, Johnson said, “I don’t know how they’re actually going to get a place to live if they don’t have insurance.”

How to help

Send gift cards or money orders, payable to 1st and Georgia Church of Christ, to:

1st and Georgia Church of Christ
116 Georgia Ave.
Chickasha, OK 73018

* * * 

Johnson — then Livingston — graduated RSHS in 1987 and went to UNC-Wilmington on a cross country scholarship.

While in high school, she was ranked as high as sixth in the state.

“I came from an athletic family,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t help but be an athlete.”

She was a middle distance specialist, focusing on the 800-meter run. In that distance, Johnson qualified for AAU nationals and placed second before she was 15 years old.

While in college, she decided to forego athletics and graduated with a degree in psychology with a minor in physical education. Johnson moved to Greensboro, where she worked in behavioral health with intellectually handicapped individuals, from 1994 to 2006. She also earned her real estate broke’s license.

In 2006, Johnson relocated to Roanoke, Va., for nearly six years before moving to Oklahoma.

She and her husband now do ministry work. Weldon Johnson is a Christian author — his next book, Heaven is Hiring, is due out next month. Johnson said she edits each of his books. Through their AIM (Achieving, Inspiring and Motivating) Youth 4 Christ ministry, she and her husband work with at-risk youth “that are needing direction” and help tutor them and develop life skills.

Johnson said she always tries to be in a position to help people.

“I think that’s one of the things I learned through team sports, to help others,” she said.

* * *

Franklin Stubbs, meanwhile, toils in for the Dodgers’ minor league system as a batting coach in Oklahoma City.

Stubbs was a first round draft pick in the 1982 draft after attending Virginia Tech.

In 1998, Stubbs entered the game as a pinch hitter with the Dodgers facing a 3-0 deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals and All-Star closer Todd Worell. Stubbs socked his only major league grand slam to give the Dodgers their 48th win at the season’s midway point.

Stubbs started every game of the 1998 World Series against the Oakland Athletics. He hit .294 in 18 plate appearances.

Stubbs hit 104 home runs in 10  years as a major leaguer. He’s been a minor league coach since 1999.


Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Sports

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