Governor Fallin Very Disappointed With Lack of Federal Assistance for All Wildfire Victims
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin was notified today in a letter from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate that assistance for individuals and business owners impacted by recent wildfires in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties has been denied. The letter (see attachment)states “it has been determined that the damage to the dwellings from wildfires in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance for these counties.” Today’s decision comes on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Creek County was approved for individual assistance.
“I am extremely disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny disaster assistance to all Oklahomans who have been tragically impacted by these fires,” said Governor Fallin. “It seems ridiculous to me that houses lost in fires occurring within the same period, on the same day in some cases, would arbitrarily qualify for aid in some counties while not in others. Mr. Fugate’s letter not only seems bureaucratic but cruel.”
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reports the following figures confirmed by FEMA/State damage assessment teams:
- Cleveland County - 154 homes damaged, including 141 destroyed, 127 of which were uninsured
- Oklahoma County - 38 homes damaged, including 33 destroyed, 31 of which were uninsured
- Payne County - 63 homes damaged, including 53 destroyed, 59 of which were uninsured
The State of Oklahoma has 30 days to appeal today’s denial. To help build a case for an appeal, all those who have sustained wildfire damage to their homes or businesses since July 28 are urged to call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to report their damage.
“I cannot stress enough how essential it is for those in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties to report their damage to FEMA as soon as possible.” Gov. Fallin said. “This is the best chance we have to make our case and hopefully bring much needed assistance to Oklahomans who have lost everything in these fires.”
While federal assistance has been denied for Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties, yesterday’s declaration for Creek County means those who sustained uninsured fire damage are eligible for assistance for housing repairs or temporary housing, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property, disaster unemployment assistance and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs. To apply for federal assistance, Creek County wildfire victims should call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or go online at www.disasterassistance.gov.