Office of Governor Brad Henry
State of Oklahoma
State Capitol – Oklahoma City OK 73105
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- 12/11/2007
Gov. Henry, Lt. Gov. Askins Seek All Federal Aid, Urge Calm as Response and Recovery Proceeds
Oklahoma City – Gov. Brad Henry and Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins today said they will continue to seek all possible federal assistance to help Oklahomans respond to and recover from this week’s ice storms.
“This is without question the worst ice storm in state history, and it will require a historic response from all levels of government,” said Gov. Henry. “We will do whatever it takes to help Oklahomans rebuild and recover from this devastating event.”
“We will keep pushing until our state receives the assistance it needs and deserves,” added Lt. Gov. Askins. “We are in constant communications with federal officials in the nation’s capital, keeping them up to date and staying on top of the situation.”
Askins has served as acting governor while Henry has been out of state. Gov. Henry will return to Oklahoma tomorrow morning.
The state received its first federal aid early this morning when President Bush approved Oklahoma’s request for an emergency declaration covering all 77 counties. The emergency declaration authorizes federal resources to assist state and local governments as they continue to respond to the ice storm.
Overnight, industrial-sized generators and bottled water arrived from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Later today, cots, blankets and meals ready to eat (MREs) are expected to arrive in the state as well. These resources will be deployed through the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to cities, towns and counties to support shelters and keep water treatment plants on-line.
While the declaration delivers resources, it does not authorize reimbursement funds for state and local government response/recovery work. It only allows a state and federal cost-share for the use of federal resources.
Lt. Gov. Askins said the state will push for reimbursement authorization and additional aid.
“Cities and counties will need all the help they can as they clear debris and make repairs. We will also move quickly to seek aid for individual citizens and business,” she said.
In an effort to secure public assistance, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) will be surveying the state’s hardest hit areas first to document infrastructure damage and determine financial assistance needed by cities, towns and counties.
In an effort to obtain Individual Assistance, OEM is in the process of establishing a phone bank for individuals to call and report uninsured damages.
Both Gov. Henry and Lt. Gov. Askins thanked first responders, utility crews and others for their ongoing response efforts. They also urged Oklahomans to remain calm during what could be a lengthy recovery process.
“We know Oklahomans appreciate all of the fine work of emergency personnel, particularly the local and out-of-state utility crews that are helping clear trees and restore electricity. Because of the severity of the storm, it could take time to return things to normal, and we would urge citizens to exercise patience as that process continues,” said Lt. Gov. Askins.