Office of Governor Brad Henry
State of Oklahoma
State Capitol – Oklahoma City OK 73105
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Jan. 15, 2008
Gov. Henry Outraged by FEMA Denial of Federal Assistance In Wake of Ice Storm, Vows to Appeal Decision
Oklahoma City -- Gov. Brad Henry said today he is deeply disappointed and frustrated that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied Oklahoma’s request for individual assistance for people hit hard by last month’s deadly ice storm.
The Governor said the state will appeal the decision.
“I don’t understand how FEMA could assess the extensive damages from that ice storm and not conclude the obvious,” he said.
“This was a storm of historic proportions that caused damage to both public property and private property. With more than 13,000 damage reports received by the state, individual assistance is certainly justified.”
On Jan. 9, Gov. Henry had requested individual assistance for Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, although state emergency management officials had indicated that additional counties would be added if the request was approved.
The Governor said he and state emergency management officials knew the request could be denied in light of Oklahoma’s experience with the January 2007 ice storm, in which FEMA had also denied individual assistance.
“But we remained optimistic,” he said. “After receiving nine presidential disaster declarations in one year -- which included back-to-back flooding events, ice and snow storms -- we felt the case for additional assistance had been made.
“The ice storm was a full-fledged catastrophe. It knocked out power to more than 640,000 Oklahoma homes and businesses, many of which were not able to have power restored for more than a week. The disaster resulted in at least 29 deaths. If the ice storm did not warrant federal assistance for the many Oklahomans who were impacted, then nothing does.”
On two other occasions in the past eight years, individual assistance was granted for winter storms that were no more severe than the one that crippled much of Oklahoma in December.
President Bush last month granted Gov. Henry’s request for public assistance to 25 counties impacted by the storm. Under that declaration, federal assistance is available for expenses related to infrastructure damage including roads, bridges and public facilities, as well as the costs of debris removal.