Following Oklahoma's 2013 Tornadoes, Where Does Federal Aid Really Go?

Debris filled the streets in Moore, Okla. on May 20, 2013.
State Farm Flickr Creative Commons

After a string of deadly tornados hit Oklahoma in the spring of last year, President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration that paved the way for up to $257 million in aid.

One year later, about one half of that funding has been spent.  The Oklahoma Tornado Project teamed up with Oklahoma Watch to track where all the money went. 

Following huge disasters, there’s always a potential for things to go wrong. In New Orleans, former mayor Ray Nagin was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes from contractors rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. And in New Jersey, there’s been criticism that some Sandy aid money has gone to less needy areas.

So we wanted to look into Oklahoma’s post-storm recovery. State Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood – who has worked closely with FEMA – says outright fraud is less common than it used to be. 

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:17 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Oklahoma Moves Up the Ranks By Adding More Wind Energy To Its Electricity Mix

Credit Gabriel Pollard / Flickr Creative Commons

Wind energy accounted for 14.8 percent of the electricity generated in Oklahoma in 2013, an American Wind Energy analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency show.

Oklahoma now ranks No. 7 nationally, a step up from the No. 9 ranking the state earned in 2012 when wind power comprised 10.5 percent of the state’s energy mix, according to the wind industry trade group.

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Oklahoma Watch
2:02 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Limited Impact Expected In Oklahoma From Obama's Education Proposal

Credit Terrapin Flyer / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama called for a 2 percent increase in federal education funding while unveiling his budget proposal Tuesday, but little benefit is expected in Oklahoma.

During his presentation, Obama requested $68.6 billion in discretionary education funding. The proposal included no changes in current Title 1 spending, which funds programs for students from low-income families, or special education. Both programs combined take up 39 percent of proposed federal education funding.

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State Capitol
1:15 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Ralph Ellison Portrait Unveiled Thursday

The portrait of Ralph Ellison unveiled Thursday is part of a yearlong celebration of the author's 100th birthday. He died in 1994.
Credit State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) / Facebook

One of the state's most famous writers is the latest Oklahoman to be honored with a portrait at the state Capitol.

The author of Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison grew up in the Deep Deuce area of Oklahoma City. State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) was among those leading the effort to pay tribute to Ellison. Holt says the new painting honors a man who was much more than a writer.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:27 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Lawmakers Join Landowners Who Think Getting A Mining Permit Is Too Easy

Johnston County Landowner Clyde Runyon just outside a limestone mining operation near Mill Creek, Okla.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Limestone and sand miners are getting a lot of attention lately. The amount of groundwater they can displace from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer was recently capped, and the state House could authorize a new tax on the industry.

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World Views
11:18 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Lost (And Found) In Translation: Three Authors Find Their Place Through Literature

Credit Roxanne Ready / Flickr Creative Commons

Growing up, author Andrew Lam struggled to make sense of his Vietnamese identity at home and his American identity at school.  

“Writing and reading was a way to begin to understand how I could marry this night and day dichotomy,” Lam says. “It’s possible to use the written language to express one’s self and make two polar worlds bridge and connect.”

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OneSix8
9:58 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week With OU’s Civil War Teach-In And A Tornado Project Forum

"A War for the Union 1862-A Cavalry Charge" engraving by Winslow Homer
Credit Winslow Homer / Brooklyn Museum

The University of Oklahoma presents a “Teach-In On The Civil War” Monday, March 10. Highly reputable academics from across the country come to Norman for the all-day event that features lectures and panel discussions about the era.

OU President David Boren delivers a few words before the opening lecture from Clemson University historian Vernon Burton at 9:30 a.m. in OU’s Catlett Music Center.

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Chesapeake
8:48 am
Thu March 6, 2014

OKC's Cheseapeake Energy Accused Of Collusion

Credit Chesapeake Energy

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he's filed criminal charges Chesapeake Energy and Encana Corporation for colluding to avoid bidding against each other for Michigan oil and gas leases.

Schuette said Wednesday that the antitrust violations happened in 2010, when Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake and Calgary, Alberta-based Encana bought natural gas leases in Michigan.

He says collusion is suspected of depressing the per-acre cost of leases from $1,510 in May 2010 to under $40 in October 2010.

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The Two-Way
6:14 am
Thu March 6, 2014

'We Are Ready To Protect Our Country,' Ukrainian Leader Says

Demonstrators carried a Russian flag during a rally this week in the western Crimean city of Yevpatoria.
Genya Savilov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 12:25 pm

We're updating this post as the day continues.

While conceding that his nation can't come close to the military power of Russia, the interim prime minister of Ukraine said Thursday that "we are ready to protect our country" if Russia does not stop its "military aggression" in Crimea.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters in Brussels, Belgium, that the presence of Russian forces in that autonomous region of his nation "is unacceptable in the 21st century."

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29 Democrats Pledge Support
5:54 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

House Democrats Support Proposal To Finish Museum

Credit American Indian Cultural Center & Museum

The 29 Democrats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives have agreed to support a Senate-backed measure to spend $40 million to complete an unfinished American Indian museum in Oklahoma City.

The announcement by House Democratic Leader Scott Inman on Wednesday could boost the chances for the proposal to pass the House, where many Republicans oppose the idea.

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OSU Did not admit liability
4:17 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

OSU Settles Lawsuit With Anti-Abortion Group

Credit musicalwds / Flickr.com

Oklahoma State University has settled a lawsuit with an anti-abortion group that said it wasn't allowed to distribute leaflets with graphic images on campus.

OSU and Cowboys for Life settled the federal lawsuit last week that alleged the university refused to allow the group to display leaflets and signs of an aborted fetus in heavily trafficked areas of campus.

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