Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Situation Update 18
February 4, 2010, 11:15 a.m.
WINTER STORM CONTINUES TO IMPACT STATE
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains activated and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas. Agencies and organizations represented at the State EOC include the: American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Oklahoma Military Department, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, 2-1-1 Oklahoma, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA.
INJURIES AND FATALITIES
Injuries related to the ice storm continue to climb according to numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). At least 904 slip and fall injuries have been reported statewide. OSDH also reports 222 injuries from motor vehicle accidents, 98 other injuries and 18 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning related to the storm. State health department officials urge those who are using portable generators to make certain they are not placed for use indoors or in garages, basements or sheds. Generators should be placed well away -- at least 25 feet -- from windows, doors, vents or any other opening. Some people may be tempted to use charcoal grills, camp stoves or other gasoline/charcoal burning devices indoors during a power outage. These alternative fuel sources can also produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide poisoning. Additional winter weather precautions are available on the Oklahoma State Department of Health Web site at http://www.ok.gov/health/Winter_Precautions.html.
Seven fatalities are attributed to the winter storm.
The Office of the State Medical Examiner reports:
-- An 86-year-old Yukon man died Sunday due to injuries sustained Friday when he slipped and fell while shoveling snow.
-- A 79-year-old Harmon County woman was found dead in her house where there was no power and the inside temperature was 30 degrees on Saturday.
-- A 59-year-old Geary woman was found dead outside her home Saturday.
-- A 62-year-old Anadarko man was found dead Sunday in his travel trailer where there was no power and the inside temperature was 28 degrees.
-- A 73-year-old Pontotoc County man died Saturday in a house fire after using a wood-burning stove due to power outages.
-- A 70-year-old Ada woman died Friday after a propane tank exploded at her home. The propane tank was being used to fuel a generator due to power outages. Her husband was hospitalized in critical condition due to the incident.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reports:
-- A 33-year-old Holdenville man died Sunday in a one-vehicle crash one mile north of US 270 on SH 48 in Hughes County. A passenger in the car, another Holdenville man, was treated and released from Holdenville General Hospital.
OHP worked 568 storm related crashes, including 120 involving injury since the storm began.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports 30,571 homes and businesses are without electric service due to the winter storm, which includes the following.
PSO reports 3,634 customers without power including those in:
Chickasha area --908
Hobart area -- 1,190
Lawton area -- 1,514
The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority reports 7,015 customers without power in:
Purcell -- 85
Altus -- 3,750
Comanche -- 5
Duncan -- 850
Marlo -- 2,325
The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports 19,922 customers without power in:
Caddo Electric, Binger: 4,647
Canadian Valley Electric, Seminole: 900
Cotton Electric, Walters: 7,575
Harmon Electric Association, Hollis: 2,000
Kiwash Electric, Cordell: 1,400
Northfork Electric, Sayre: 0 (power has been restored to all meters that can safely receive electric service)
Oklahoma Electric, Norman: 0 (power has been restored to all meters that can safely receive electric service)
People’s Electric, Ada: 0 (power has been restored to all meters that can safely receive electric service)
Rural Electric, Lindsay: 2,400
SW Rural Electric, Tipton: 1,000
OG&E reports power has been restored to all meters that can safely receive electric service.
WATCH OUT FOR SCAM ARTISTS
Unfortunately in disaster situations, scam artists are often ready to take advantage of the misfortunes of others. People should be especially alert for phone or door-to-door solicitors who hand out flyers and promise to speed up the insurance or building permit process and those who ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full. Whether they are architectural, engineering, electrical, or general contractors, most service providers in the building industry are honest, but all too often disasters attract scam artists. Some claim to be state or FEMA certified, when, in fact, neither the state nor FEMA certifies or endorses any contractor. If you suspect contractor fraud, contact the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029 or online at www.oag.state.ok.us or contact your local Better Business Bureau.
Tips for hiring contractors include:
Get a written estimate. Compare services and prices before making a final decision. Also, read the fine print. Some contractors charge a fee for a written estimate, which is often applied to the cost of subsequent repairs they make.
Check references. Contractors should be willing to provide names of previous customers. Call several former customers who had similar work done to make sure they were satisfied with the job.
Ask for proof of insurance. Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers’ compensation. If the contractor is not insured, the homeowner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.
Use reliable, licensed contractors. Call your local Better Business Bureau (and other local sources) to inquire about a business before signing a contract.
Insist on a written contract. A complete contract should state clearly all tasks to be performed, all associated costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Make sure the contract clearly states who will apply for the necessary permits or licenses. Have a lawyer review the contract if substantial costs are involved, and keep a copy for your records.
Get guarantees in writing. Any guarantees made by the contractor should be written into the contract. The guarantee should state clearly what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee and how long the guarantee is valid.
Obtain a local building permit, if required. Permits may be required for site work other than demolition, and for reconstruction. Contact your local government for permit information.
Make final payments when the work is completed. Do not sign completion papers or make the final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to sign if the job is not finished properly.
Pay by check. Avoid on-the-spot cash payments. The safest route is to write a check to the contracting company. A reasonable down payment is 30 percent of the total cost of the project to be paid upon initial delivery of materials.
If necessary, cancel a contract in the proper manner. This should be done within three business days of signing. Be sure to follow the procedures for cancellation that are set out in the contract. Send the notification by registered mail with a return receipt to be signed by the contractor.
Consumers should be wary of contractors who:
Lack proper identification. Ask to see the laminated photo identification card; if they don’t have it, they are probably not legitimate.
Go door-to-door. People going door-to-door to damaged homes, or phoning victims and claiming to be building contractors, could be frauds. If callers solicit personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers, they are not legitimate.
Offer to increase the amount of your disaster damage assessment. This is not wise and is a sure sign of a scam.
Ask for cash up front. Under no circumstances provide cash up front to contractors.
Oklahoma remains under an emergency disaster declaration. On Saturday President Barrack Obama approved Gov. Henry’s request for the federal disaster aid covering all 77 Oklahoma counties. The emergency declaration authorizes federal resources to assist state and local governments as they continue to respond to the severe winter storm. These resources include industrial size generators, bottled water, cots and blankets. The need for additional federal disaster aid to cover further response and recovery costs is currently being assessed.
Oklahoma also remains under a State of Emergency, as declared by Gov. Henry on Jan. 27. The State of Emergency allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The executive order provides a formal mechanism for local governments to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state’s disaster public assistance program if conditions warrant.
PRICE GOUGING STATUTE IN EFFECT
Oklahoma’s price gouging statute is in effect in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties due to the State of Emergency. The price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a State of Emergency has been declared. Anyone who suspects price gouging is urged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029.
More than 100 generators have been deployed through the State EOC to provide power to critical facilities like shelters, water treatment plans and hospitals in communities impacted by the storm. The Oklahoma National Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delivered the generators.
Resources to support local efforts, including bottled water, blankets, cots and meals ready to eat (MREs) which were secured through the federal government, continue to be deployed through the State EOC.
Please note these generators are not for residential use.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports there are no weather-related road closures in Oklahoma. As of 10 a.m.:
- Roads in the panhandle are snow packed and slick in Cimarron and Texas counties and slushy and wet in Beaver County.
- Roads in northwest and western Oklahoma are slushy and mostly wet with some slush.
- I-40 in western Oklahoma is clear with some wet areas.
Crews are monitoring these areas, clearing and treating roads, bridges and overpasses as necessary.
During snow and/or ice conditions, motorists are asked to:
- Check road conditions before getting out on the roads.
- Stay at least 200 feet behind road-clearing equipment; crews need room to maneuver and can engage plowing or spreading materials without notice.
- Be aware of "black ice," which looks wet on the roadway, but is actually a thin layer of ice.
- Be aware that conditions are continually changing; drive cautiously and for the conditions on the roadway.
- Allow extra space between vehicles, so there is adequate distance for braking in wet and icy conditions.
- Please be patient, plan trips ahead and allow extra time to reach destinations.
For information regarding Oklahoma road conditions, call 888-425-2385. For road conditions in neighboring states call: Texas, 800-452-9292; Kansas, 866-511-5368; Arkansas, 800-245-1672; Colorado 303-639-1111; New Mexico 800-432-4269; and Missouri, 800-222-6400.
SHELTERS AND MASS FEEDING
On Wednesday, about 1,065 visited the shelters where 4,751 meals were served. The following 28 shelters and feeding/warming centers remain open:
Altus – First Baptist Church, 300 N. Main
Altus – Altus Community Center, 401 Falcon Rd
Apache – Clark Community Center, 301 E. Evans St
Blair – Blair School, 610 Zinn
Cache – Cahoma Building, 752 NW Quannah Road
Carnegie – Kiowa Complex, 100 Kiowa Way
Cement -- School Gym, 201 N. Main Street
Chickasha - Grady County Fairgrounds, 500 East Choctaw
Cyril – Cyril Senior Center, 3 Ohio Street
Duncan - Stephens County Fairgrounds, 2002 S 13th Street
Elgin – Elgin Fire Department, 7892 US Highway 277
Granite – Granite Public School, 206 W. Parker
Hinton – Cedar Lake, 13600 S. Maple Road
Hobart - First Methodist Church, 201 S. Washington
Lawton – Comanche Nation College, 1608 SW 9th
Lawton -- Cameron Baptist Church, 2621 SW C Ave.
Marlow -- First Baptist Church of Marlow, 213 North Broadway
Medicine Park – Community Center
Roosevelt – First Baptist Church,132 Frederick
Rush Springs – Fire Department, 110 N. 3rd Street
Tipton – First Baptist Church, 300 East Davis Ave
Anadarko – First Baptist Church, 700 Petree
El Dorado -- El Dorado Community Center, 514 W. Main
Lawton – Comanche Tribe Elder Center, 1107 SW H Ave
Mountain View – Pentecostal Holiness Church, 6th & Randallet
Seminole – Seminole City Hall, 101 E Veteran’s Memorial Hwy
Fletcher – American Legion Building, Selby & Tenneppee
Carnegie – First Baptist Church, 120 West Main
The American Red Cross continues to stand by to open additional shelters if necessary.
The Salvation Army continues to assist at the Grady County Fairgrounds shelter in Chickasha, where they are providing supervision and all meals. In Cyril at the Senior Center they are providing meal supplies which local volunteers are preparing. In Altus, they continue to provide meals to city and first responders.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is supplying some shelters with USDA food commodities.
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is supporting the shelters with feeding sites.
Additionally, their Baptist Chainsaw groups are taking requests for clearing large trees from individual homes. To request assistance call 211. The Baptist priorities of assistance are elderly (who needs assistance), single women with children and families with heads of households on military duty overseas.
Cloudy skies will persist the next several days with temperatures generally in the 30s to low 40s. There is a slight chance of snow tonight across northern parts of Oklahoma, ending early Friday. Additional rain chances are in the forecast for Sunday through Monday. There is a slight chance of snow across mainly northern Oklahoma. Significant impacts are not anticipated. Temperatures will turn sharply colder on Tuesday.
For Oklahoma residents seeking non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, please contact your local 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day by dialing 2-1-1 from your home or cellular telephone. 2-1-1 is a statewide service. Please only call 911 for emergencies.