Office of Governor Brad Henry
State of Oklahoma
State Capitol – Oklahoma City OK 73105
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Jan. 24, 2008
Gov. Henry appeals FEMA denial, seeks aid for ice storm victims
Oklahoma City -- Gov. Brad Henry today filed a formal appeal on behalf of Oklahoma ice storm victims, asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reverse its recent decision denying individual assistance to those hard hit by last month’s historic winter weather.
“Oklahoma ice storm victims deserve federal help, and we are asking FEMA to take another hard look at our assistance request,” said Gov. Henry. “We endured a disaster of historic proportions and have made a very strong case for federal aid.”
The December ice storm left more than 640,000 homes and businesses without power and caused 29 deaths.
On January 9, Gov. Henry requested individual assistance for two of the state’s hardest hit areas, Tulsa and Oklahoma counties, but FEMA denied the request, claiming state, local and volunteer organizations could address the damages.
“The ice storm was Oklahoma’s ninth federal disaster declaration of 2007, an all-time record for the nation. As a result, the resources of the state and our local volunteer organizations are stretched to the limit. We need federal aid to get Oklahomans back on their feet,” Gov. Henry said.
In its assistance request, the state cites multiple disasters in 2007, ice storm damages to homes and businesses, the fiscal impact to businesses closed by power outages and the continuing health hazard of remaining storm debris, among other things.
An individual assistance declaration would make Oklahomans eligible for assistance with housing repairs or temporary housing and disaster unemployment assistance. It would also provide for U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans for individuals and businesses and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs.
While Gov. Henry believes the state has made a strong case for individual assistance, he said he did not know how FEMA will act on its latest appeal. He noted that FEMA denied individual aid to the state early in 2007 when an ice storm crippled much of eastern Oklahoma.
“In light of our experiences with FEMA, I don’t want to raise any false hopes. We’ve been working with our congressional delegation to bring attention to our appeal and I commend them for their help, but it’s always difficult to predict what will happen in Washington, DC,” said the governor.