State and federal community relations teams are being deployed into Oklahoma’s disaster-declared counties to contact affected residents with damages and losses and assist them in their recovery efforts from the wildfires.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) now have six federal community relations specialists and their state counterparts working in the disaster neighborhoods.
“These disaster specialists are bringing the latest information on assistance programs directly to those who were adversely affected by the wildfires, answering any questions they have and directing them to the best sources of help,” said State Coordinating Officer Kathleen Shingledecker.
The teams will work in all 12 counties which became eligible for individual assistance when President Bush issued a major disaster declaration for Oklahoma on Jan.10. Individual assistance assessments are continuing in other counties for their possible addition to the declaration.
“Our combined community relations effort will continue as long as needed,” Federal Coordinating Officer Philip E. Parr said. “Our goal is to lessen the stress and anxiety levels, related to disaster assistance programs, for affected residents by providing them with a direct contact to the people who are here to help them.”
All 77 counties were declared eligible for public assistance, the program that reimburses state and local government agencies and certain nonprofit organizations for extraordinary overtime costs, firefighting costs and other infrastructure damage that is a direct result of the disaster.
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