Okla. Gov. Seeks Winter Storm Assistance for 20 More Counties

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry said Feb. 19 the state has asked for federal public assistance for 20 more Oklahoma counties that were battered by winter storms last month.

“The ice and snow storms caused serious hardships for countless Oklahomans,” Henry said. “We will continue to make every effort to receive the assistance that’s needed.”

The counties included in the governor’s latest request are: Alfalfa, Canadian, Comanche, Dewey, Garvin, Grant, Greer, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Lincoln, Osage, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Tillman, Tulsa, Washington, Washita and Woods.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management made the request after conducting preliminary damage assessments in the counties. A spokeswoman for the agency, Michelann Ooten, said damage in the 20 counties was estimated at $11.1 million.

The Jan. 12-14 storms toppled tree limbs and power lines, knocked out power to about 125,000 homes and businesses statewide and contributed to the deaths of more than 30 people, mostly in highway crashes.

Ooten said it is not uncommon for damage caused by an ice storm to delay assessments.

“We couldn’t get to the affected areas in some cases,” Ooten said.

Twenty-two counties already are eligible for public assistance. They are: Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Cherokee, Coal, Cotton, Craig, Delaware, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Latimer, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Pittsburg, Seminole, Sequoyah and Wagoner.

Ooten said damage to those counties from the ice and snow storm was estimated at $40 million.

Earlier, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued the same declaration for Beaver, Cimarron and Texas counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle for damage suffered during a snowstorm Dec. 28-30.

Under the major disaster declaration, the federal government pays 75 percent of the cost of debris removal, infrastructure repairs, emergency protective measures and restoration of utilities. The state and local governments will each pay 12.5 percent.

State emergency management officials also are urging federal authorities to approve the state’s request for individual assistance for homes and businesses impacted by the winter storms.

“We’re still pushing for individual assistance,” Ooten said. The state received 3,044 calls in just 10 days seeking individual assistance for damaged homes, she said.

Last week, the agency forwarded damage assessments to FEMA based on reports of roof damage to homes and businesses, burst pipes and damaged electrical equipment received by the Ice Storm Damage Assessment Line.