Southwest Okla. Lawmakers Urge Gov. to Issue Disaster Declaration

February 7, 2007

State lawmakers representing southwest Oklahoma are urging Gov. Brad Henry to include Comanche and Tillman counties in his request for a major federal disaster declaration, the Oklahoma House of Representatives reported.

“Given how much damage the ice storms did in southwest Oklahoma, there’s no reason the state shouldn’t seek federal aid for those communities,” said state Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon, in the announcement. “We’ve had entire communities without power for days and our infrastructure has taken a beating. Our communities need all the help they can get.”

Following recent ice storms, Henry requested a federal disaster declaration for much of eastern Oklahoma, but hard-hit counties in the southwest were ignored.

If a declaration is approved by President George W. Bush, individuals in the affected area may be eligible for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help residents and business owners recover from the effects of a disaster. Communities may also seek reimbursement for infrastructure damages.

“The recent ice storms have done real damage in Southwest Oklahoma and I believe a federal disaster declaration is easily justified,” said state Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “The more assistance we can obtain, the faster we can rebuild.”

“The ice storm was crippling for local communities and constituents, and many are still recovering,” said state Rep. T. W. Shannon, R-Lawton. “Some communities, like Grandfield, were without power for a week.”

“The ice storm created serious problems across southwest Oklahoma, damaging roads and power lines and forcing schools to close for days,” said state Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton. “The Lawton school system, which is the biggest in our area, was forced to close for a week because the roads were so bad.”

“That much ice causes lots of problems that can take months or even years to address,” said Armes. “If Governor Henry will act quickly and request a disaster declaration, we can shorten that time frame considerably.”

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives

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