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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Coburn's Empty Senate Seat
6:17 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Corn And Keating Withdraw Names From Candidacy

Credit sboneham / Flickr.com

Former state Sen. Kenneth Corn is the latest to withdraw his name as a potential Democratic candidate for Oklahoma's U.S. Senate seat that is being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn.

Corn said in a statement he decided not to seek public office "at this given time."

The 37-year-old from Poteau says he's particularly concerned the race for the open U.S. Senate seat will be heavily influenced by special interest groups and "power brokers from outside of Oklahoma."

Former Republican Gov. Frank Keating also announced Monday he wouldn't seek the post.

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Fire Chief Gary Bird
5:13 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Moore Fire Chief To Be At Annual State Of The Union Address

Fire Chief Gary Bird
Credit Moore Fire Department

Moore Fire Chief Gary Bird will be among the guests who sit with first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday when President Barack Obama delivers the annual State of the Union address.

Bird and his team worked through the path of the May 2013 tornado to rescue survivors. The tornado killed 25 people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses.

Bird and his team searched every damaged home at least once for survivors, and his goal was to conduct three searches of each building.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:11 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

State Water Leaders Give Grim Drought Update And Push For More Conservation

Retired Col. Michael Teague, Secretary of Energy and Environment, stands in front of a dam at Lake Eufaula.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The fact that lakes in eastern Oklahoma are full, and last year was wetter than normal for many areas of the state makes some people think the three-year drought is over.

Those people would be wrong, according to state Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague.

Teague joined Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director J.D. Strong Friday at the state capitol for a press conference updating the state’s drought situation.

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The Two-Way
1:06 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

FAA Orders Safety Checks On Boeing 767 Jets

An American Airlines Boeing 767 takes off from Miami International Airport.
Wilfredo Lee AP

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 11:21 am

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered safety inspections on Monday of all Boeing 767 jets.

As The Los Angeles Times reports, the FAA is worried about potential problems to the aircraft's horizontal flight-control surfaces, which could result in a "possible loss of control of the airplane."

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Energy
12:25 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Oil And Gas Tax Breaks Leaving Millions On The Table In Oklahoma

An oil rig in Edmond, Okla.
Credit Kool Cats Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

It's not looking good for Oklahoma's budget.

State leaders expect a $170 million shortfall. This year's budget was just half a percent larger than five years ago, without adjusting for inflation. And projections estimate a deficit of up to $2 billion by 2035.

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U.S. House
11:19 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Congressman Lucas Draws Republican Primary Challenger

Robert Hubbard
Credit hubbardforcongress2014

A Canadian County rancher and business owner says he will challenge 10-term U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma's 3rd Congressional District.

Robert Hubbard told The Associated Press on Monday: "We need to make some changes."

The 69-year-old Republican will formally announce his candidacy Monday afternoon at the Oklahoma History Center.

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U.S. Senate
7:38 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Will They Run? GOP Eyes Focused On Shannon, Bridenstine

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa)
Credit americanmajority.org

The dust still hasn't settled on Oklahoma's 2014 political landscape after U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn triggered a landslide within the state Republican Party with his announcement that he planned to forego his final two years in office.

All eyes are focused on whether Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon and first-term U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine decide to enter the race for Coburn's soon-to-be vacant seat.

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Around the Nation
7:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Legacy Of Forced March Still Haunts Navajo Nation

A portion of Navajo artist Shonto Begay's mural depicting the Long Walk.
The Bosque Redondo Memorial/Shonto Begay

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 10:54 am

Musician Clarence Clearwater, like so many Navajos, has moved off the reservation for work. He performs on the Grand Canyon Railway, the lone Indian among dozens of cowboys and train robbers entertaining tourists.

"I always tell people I'm there to temper the cowboys," says Clearwater. "I'm there to give people the knowledge that there was more of the West than just cowboys."

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Wildlife After Tornadoes: To Rehabilitate Or Not, That Is The Question

Wildcare founder Rondi Large
Credit Kate Carlton

In the eight months since a series of severe storms battered the state, much of the recovery has been focused on people repairing their homes and putting their lives back together. But the tornados also displaced and injured hundreds of wild animals, and one organization took steps to help those animals even after it was hit by a storm itself. 

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The Two-Way
7:15 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Looking To Escape The Deep Freeze? Head To Alaska

A man walks across a bridge in Trenton, N.J., on Saturday. More cold weather is headed his way.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 7:38 am

The National Weather Service is warning, once again, that brutally cold weather is going to be spreading across much of the nation, from the upper Midwest down to the deep South and up through the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England.

The Weather Service even throws an exclamation point into its forecast for this week:

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