Office of Governor Brad Henry
State of Oklahoma
State Capitol - Oklahoma City OK 73105
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- 2/1/2007
FEMA Approved Public Assistance for 7 Storm-Ravaged Counties; Gov. Henry Says More Counties Need Federal Aid
Oklahoma City - Gov. Brad Henry said today he is frustrated and surprised that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved public disaster assistance for only seven Oklahoma counties impacted by recent winter storms. The Governor has already filed an official request that FEMA add additional counties to the declaration.
"In light of the significant damage and hardship endured by tens of thousands of Oklahomans, I am frustrated and disappointed by today's limited assistance approved by the federal government," the Governor said.
"The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management has made a strong and compelling case to FEMA for major disaster assistance in the 26 counties severely impacted by the winter storms that battered our state in December and January. Our state has provided FEMA with copious information to support our requests, and we will continue to make our case."
Gov. Henry requested last month that FEMA grant disaster assistance for three Panhandle counties and 23 counties in Eastern Oklahoma.
FEMA announced today the approval of public assistance for four counties in the eastern half of the state: Pittsburg, Muskogee, Delaware and McIntosh. The designation means that the federal government will pay 75 percent of costs of debris removal, infrastructure repairs, emergency protective measures and restoration of utilities.
The agency also granted public assistance to the Panhandle counties of Beaver, Cimarron and Texas. Under the designation, the federal government will pay 75 percent of costs of debris removal, emergency protective measures and restoration of utilities.
The Governor said he remains hopeful that FEMA will eventually amend its declaration to add more counties for public assistance. FEMA director David Paulison earlier today told Oklahoma's emergency management director, Albert Ashwood, that the state's request will be expedited.
Gov. Henry said he also is optimistic that the federal government will approve Oklahoma's request for individual assistance in ice-battered counties.
"While we strongly believe that the State of Oklahoma has already provided enough evidence supporting our request for individual assistance, our emergency management officials continue to collect information related to storm-related damage," Gov. Henry said.
He stressed that residents who incurred such damages should phone the Oklahoma Ice-Storm Damage Assessment Line at (877) 628-5297. As of today, the toll-free number has received nearly 2,000 calls.
"I am working with our congressional delegation on this matter and will do everything we can to get the assistance we need," Gov. Henry said. "Oklahomans are hurting and need help."