The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) continues to work with local emergency managers and FEMA to assist individuals and communities impacted by the recent severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding.
Since July 7, a total of 20 Oklahoma counties have been declared federal disaster areas and received Individual Assistance. Those counties are Blaine, Bryan, Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Grady, Kiowa, Logan, McClain, Nowata, Oklahoma, Ottawa, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Seminole, Stephens and Washington.
We continue to await a response to Gov. Henry’s July 13th request that Public Assistance be added to the declaration. Public Assistance helps cities, towns and counties with infrastructure repairs and costs associated with responding to disasters.
We’re also awaiting word on the request that the beginning date for the disaster incident period be changed to May 24th. The disaster declaration issued July 7 identifies the incident period as beginning June 10. Governor Henry originally requested the May 24th incident period citing widespread excessive rainfall and severe storms experienced since that date. His request included a letter from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which identifies the storms as part of a single weather system.
OEM and local emergency managers continue to work to identify any additional properties that sustained damage. In addition, members of Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation have requested swift action from FEMA through their letters and phone calls.
July 25, 2007 is identified as the closing date for the incident period. Damages that occurred after that date are not eligible for federal disaster assistance.
A total of 3,239 applications for individual assistance have been received from Oklahomans statewide. The applications are phoned in on the FEMA tele-registration line (800-621-FEMA) or submitted on-line at www.fema.gov. Each application is from a household or a business, so each may represent 3 or 4 individuals.
Of the applications received, 3,035 are from the 20 counties declared for Individual Assistance. The highest number of applications from a single county is 818 from Ottawa County which includes Miami. The remaining 204 applications are from non-declared counties.
Nearly $15 million in disaster assistance has been approved for Oklahomans under the Individual Assistance program. This includes low interest disaster loans provided by the Small Business Administration and funds for temporary housing and emergency repairs for individuals and businesses.
Our work continues to identify other counties where Individual Assistance may be needed. Through applications received by phone or on-line and damage surveys completed by FEMA-OEM-local emergency management teams, nine more counties have been identified as possibly needing Individual Assistance. The counties are Caddo, Ellis, Garfield, Kay, Kingfisher, Noble, Osage, Washita and Woods. We anticipate an additional request for Individual Assistance will be made in the coming week. At the end of this report please find a complete list of applications received per county.
Disaster Recovery Centers
OEM and FEMA continue to work with local emergency managers to establish Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) to serve the counties declared for Individual Assistance. More than 2,400 individuals have visited the DRCs, where applicants can visit one-on-one with specialists to learn more about available assistance programs. Below is a schedule of centers currently open and planned for opening across the state.
416 S. Brady Street – open Aug. 16-21
Red River Technology Center, 3300 West Bois D’Arc Ave – open through Aug. 21
Bryan County Fairgrounds, Haggard Hall, 1901 S. 9th Street – open Aug. 23-28
Canadian Valley Technology Center, 6505 E. U.S. Hwy 66 – open through Aug. 21
Furniture Gallery, 1601 N. Main - open Monday through Saturday until further notice
Cleveland County Fairgrounds, South Building, 615 E. Robinson – open Aug. 23-28
Capitol Hill Lions Center, 3800 South Robinson Avenue – open Monday through Saturday until further notice
Pocasset Community Center, 530 S. Main (Hwy 81) – open Aug. 23-28
Seminole Community Room, Jimmy Austin Golf Course, 1605 N. Main Street – open Aug. 30-Sept. 4.
DRC hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
FEMA Mobile Homes
FEMA mobile homes are being delivered to Ottawa County to provide temporary housing to some displaced by the flooding. Already, nine families have been placed in mobile homes at a commercial site in Miami. Another 30 FEMA mobile homes are approved for delivery and should be arriving in the next few weeks. FEMA mobile homes were made available in Ottawa County because many of the rental properties were among the destroyed and heavily damaged. Last month FEMA halted use of their travel trailers when health concerns surfaced regarding possible formaldehyde poisoning.
Disaster Unemployment Benefits
Oklahomans who lost their jobs because of the storms, tornadoes and flooding may also be eligible to receive unemployment compensation. The benefits, which also extend to self-employed persons, are funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a program administered by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. Please note the deadline to apply for these benefits is looming. Residents of Blaine, Bryan, Canadian, Cleveland, Cotton, Grady, Kiowa, Logan, McClain, Oklahoma, Payne, Pontotoc, Rogers, Seminole and Stephens counties have until Sept. 8 to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). To file for DUA, an individual must first establish a regular state unemployment claim. To establish a claim and start the DUA process, individuals may call (405) 525-1500 or 1-800-555-1554. The deadline to apply for DUA benefits has expired in Comanche, Nowata, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Washington counties.
Counseling Services Available
Free crisis counseling assistance is also available to Oklahomans who are suffering stress, anxiety or depression related to the disaster. Residents in the 20 counties approved for Individual Assistance may contact the Oklahoma Mental Health Out-Reach Information and Referral Hotline, 1-800-522-9054.
Consumer Protection Fraud Hotline Available
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. Anyone who suspects fraud is urged to contact the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029 or on-line at www.oag.state.ok.us. Residents may also contact their local Better Business Bureau. Anyone who suspects fraud, waste or abuse involving FEMA disaster assistance programs may report it to FEMA’s Inspector General 1-800-323-8603.
While awaiting word on the Governor’s request for Public Assistance, OEM has worked with local emergency managers and FEMA to complete preliminary damage assessments on counties all across the state. In the July 13th letter, Gov. Henry requested Public Assistance for the 17 counties of Bryan, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Hughes, Jefferson, Kiowa, Logan, McIntosh, Oklahoma, Pawnee, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Stephens and Tillman. Once that initial request is addressed, an additional request will be made immediately for the following 41 counties: Alfalfa, Atoka, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Choctaw, Coal, Craig, Creek, Dewey, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Jackson, Johnston, Kay, Kingfisher, Lincoln, Love, Major, Marshall, Mayes, McClain, Muskogee, Noble, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pushmataha, Rogers, Sequoyah, Wagoner, Washington, Washita, Woods, and Woodward.
Applications Received for Individual Assistance by County as of Aug. 15, 2007