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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Must Be Ready By Feb. 3
5:24 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Fallin Still Working On Details Of Budget

Credit ok.gov

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin says she'll outline plans for what she calls an affordable income tax cut during next month's State of the State speech, despite a projected $170 million revenue shortfall next fiscal year.

Fallin said Wednesday the details are still being worked out, but will be included in her executive budget presented to lawmakers on Feb. 3 at the start of the legislative session.

The governor must present a balanced budget to lawmakers based on about $6.96 billion in revenues the state is expected to collect next fiscal year.

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World Views
2:26 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Oklahoma City Non-Profit Brings Local Language Instruction To West Africa

Students of the La'Angum Learning Center in the remote East Mamprusi district of Ghana.
Credit Alice Iddi-Gubbels / PAMBE Ghana

Alice Iddi-Gubbels grew up in northeastern Ghana - the oldest of 17 children and one of the first from her rural village of Bongbini to attend school.

English is the country’s official language, but most of Ghana’s rural population only speaks one of the dozens of local languages. But Iddi-Gubbels started school in an era when educators thrust unfamiliar English-only instruction upon students.

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Oklahoma News
12:54 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

SLIDESHOW: No Evidence Of Shots Fired At OU

Tactical units respond to a report of a shooting on the University of Oklahoma campus.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated at 2:06 p.m.

University of Oklahoma President David Boren says a joint tactical force comprising Norman and OU Police have found no evidence shots were fired on the campus Wednesday morning.

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10:19 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Analysis: Why Syria's Assad Heads To Geneva From A Position Of Strength

Lead in text: 
KGOU's "World Views" contributor Joshua Landis is one of this country's leading Syria watchers. In this piece for Al Jazeera America, he assesses the likely outcome of the "Geneva II" Middle East peace talks.
Syrian troops celebrate as they take the village of Haydariya on May 13 as part of a push to cut supply lines to their opponents in the strategic Qusayr area of Homs province.
Transportation
8:57 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Weight Limits Placed On Damaged Lexington-Purcell Bridge

The James C. Nance bridge connects Lexington and Purcell in Cleveland County.
Credit J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

Officials have restricted the weight limit on a bridge in Cleveland County after discovering significant damage to the span.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation says damage was discovered during an inspection Monday to the James C. Nance bridge over the Canadian River connecting Lexington to Purcell. The Norman Transcript reports that the weight limit was initially dropped to five tons, but officials increased it to 16 tons on Tuesday.

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Parallels
7:37 am
Wed January 22, 2014

What's At Stake In The Syrian Peace Conference

A man runs with a child after an attack Tuesday in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Activists said President Bashar Assad's military carried out an airstrike.
Ammar Abdullah Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 8:34 am

With a major push from the U.S., a new Syrian peace conference opened Wednesday in Switzerland, the first such effort since the middle of 2012. It wasn't easy getting everyone there, and it will be harder still to achieve a breakthrough.

Here are a few key things to know about the conference:

1. What's the goal?

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Sees Lack Of Diversity In GOP
6:24 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Gay Paramedic Throws Hat In Ring For Senate Seat

Credit DonkeyHotey / Flickr.com

A 31-year-old paramedic from Norman says he plans to seek the Republican nomination in the race for Oklahoma's open U.S. Senate seat.

Jason Weger, who is gay, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he's running in part because of a lack of diversity within the GOP.

A native of Valliant in southeast Oklahoma, Weger said he has never sought political office before. He describes himself as a "non-establishment" candidate who believes in individual freedom and a smaller government.

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Drought
3:38 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Frustrations And Rumors Bubble To The Surface As Lake Texoma Waters Retreat

Credit The Italian Voice / Flickr Creative Commons

Lake Texoma’s level was about 609 feetlast week, down from 612 feet two months ago. The lake can only be used for hydropower until levels drop to 590 feet.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Preventive Medical Care Can Come With Unexpected Costs

Insurers still charge copays for some contraceptives.
Laura Garca iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 3:42 pm

Preventive health care services are supposed to be covered under the Affordable Care Act so that people don't have to pay out of pocket to get recommended screening tests. But some people are discovering that these supposedly free services can be costly.

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Oklahoma News
2:18 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Hearing Delayed In Case Over Oklahoma Veterans' Deaths

Claremore Veterans Center
Credit ok.gov/odva / Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

The preliminary hearing has again been delayed for a former physician assistant charged in the deaths of two patients at the Claremore Veterans Center.

Kenneth Adams was due in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing, but the case has been delayed until March 11-12.

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