Checks totaling more than $1,600,000 are in the hands of residents who qualify for federal and state disaster assistance for damages and losses caused by Oklahoma wildfires since Nov. 27, 2005. This includes 75 families that have received the maximum grant of $10,900 toward replacement of their houses.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) had received 731 applications as of Friday, March 10; applications are received daily.
Financial support awarded to date includes a total of:
* $66,252 in rental support to 142 applicants;
* $817,100 (the maximum grant available) to 75 families whose homes were completely destroyed by wildfires;
* $684,248 to 93 families to replace personal property destroyed by the fires.
“Since responding to this disaster, FEMA, Oklahoma and our partners have focused on ensuring families have safe, secure and habitable housing as they rebuild their lives,” Federal Coordinating Officer Philip Parr said.
President Bush declared 12 Oklahoma counties major disaster areas on Jan. 10. An additional 14 counties were added to the declaration on Jan. 27. The $1.6 million dispersed to date comes from a total obligation of $2.5 million through FEMA’s Individual Assistance program for the wildfires.
“Overcoming emergency needs, especially those directly concerning housing and essential needs, is a top priority for us,” said State Coordinating Officer Kathleen Shingledecker. “This is a critical early step in the recovery process because it helps those in need to meet pressing needs, just as the speedy response reflects our commitment to provide disaster assistance without delay.
For those faced with rebuilding or repairing their homes who are uninsured, underinsured or lack access to resources to rebuild, a coalition of non-profit voluntary organizations is offering material and labor to qualified applicants. Project Rebuild: Wildfires represents the Oklahoma Lumbermen’s Association as well as faith-based groups and construction trade associations. Call 1-866-621-FIRE for more information.
Anyone with wildfire damages and losses is urged to apply for federal and state disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The speech and hearing impaired may call 1-800-462-7585. An application can also be made online at www.fema.gov.
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