Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry said state officials are working with their counterparts in surrounding states to speed the flow of power repair supplies and other provisions to communities hard hit by the ice storm in late January.
“We appreciate the cooperation from neighboring states and will continue to count on their support as we work to restore power in the affected communities,” Gov. Henry said in an announcement on the governor’s Web site. “Many Oklahomans have been without electricity for almost a week, and the faster we can get the lights turned on in their communities, the better for everyone.”
On the eve of last week’s ice storm, Gov. Henry declared a state of emergency and suspended highway size and weight restrictions to begin pre-positioning response crews and materials.
As the storm moved through Oklahoma, the governor’s office began contacting bordering states and asking them to do the same so supplies could be transported quickly to the hardest hit areas.
Power crews from Oklahoma and many other states have been working around the clock to restore electricity to tens of thousands of homes, many of which are in southwestern Oklahoma.
Gov. Henry has already requested and the White House has granted a federal emergency declaration that approved federal resources such as food and shelter supplies to assist state response efforts.
The governor said authorities will also begin compiling damage estimates in affected communities to help determine what additional federal aid might be available to Oklahoma.
In a related action, Oklahoma asked the White House for additional aid related to the Christmas Eve blizzard. State and local authorities have spent the last several weeks compiling damage estimates to support the request for federal assistance.
In a letter to President Obama, Gov. Henry asked for a major disaster declaration for 29 counties impacted by the December blizzard.
If approved, cities, towns and counties impacted by the Dec. 24-25, 2009, winter storm will receive public assistance for expenses related to response and recovery efforts.
The counties listed in the request are: Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Delaware, Garvin, Grady, Hughes, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Lincoln, Love, McClain, Muskogee, Noble, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Sequoyah, Stephens, Tillman and Tulsa.
In these counties alone preliminary damage estimates exceed $18 million.
Emergency management officials noted that preliminary damage assessments continue in other counties throughout the state. The damage surveys were scheduled when the latest winter storm hit. As these additional damage assessments are completed, requests may be made for more counties to be declared.
Source: Oklahoma Governor’s Office
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