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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Native American
12:49 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Osage Nation Chief Red Eagle Removed From Office

Former Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle.
Credit Provided / Osage Nation

The Osage Nation has been removed its Principal Chief from office.

The Tulsa World reports the Osage Nation Congress voted this morning to remove John Red Eagle after a trial sustained five of the six counts he was being tried on.

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U.S. House
11:10 am
Tue January 21, 2014

GOP Corporation Commissioner Enters U.S. House Race

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas served as Edmond's mayor from 2009-2011.
Credit Commissioner Patrice Douglas / Facebook

Republican Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas says she's running for the open U.S. House seat being vacated by two-term Rep. James Lankford.

Douglas says she's "thrilled with the opportunity" to run for the seat representing Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District. The 51-year-old said she wants to "take a business sense to Washington."

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The Two-Way
8:38 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Hunt Is On For At Least One 'Black Widow' In Sochi

Police in Sochi have distributed leaflets as they search for Ruzanna Ibragimova, an alleged "black widow" who may be intending to set off a suicide bomb at the site of next month's Winter Olympics.
Natalya Vasilyeva AP

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 10:22 am

Is there already one or more "black widow" in or near Sochi, Russia, who might be determined to set off a suicide bomb at the site of next month's Winter Olympics?

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow that Russian security forces are said to be looking for "Ruzanna Ibragimova, the 22-year-old widow of an Islamist militant who was killed by security forces."

He tells our Newscast Desk that according to Russian news outlets:

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State Capitol
8:00 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Oklahoma Budget Briefings To Focus On Cuts

Credit ana branca / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma legislators will begin budget briefings with various state agencies amid projections they will have about $170 million less to spend on state programs this year.

Members of House and Senate budget subcommittees will begin hearing presentations on Tuesday at the state Capitol.

State Sen. Kim David chairs the subcommittee that oversees funding for health and human services. She and her counterpart on the House subcommittee will meet with officials from nearly a dozen state agencies over the next two days.

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Oklahoma News
7:07 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Aging Black Rhino Dies At OKC Zoo

Marsha "paints" a picture at the Oklahoma City Zoo. The aging black rhinoceros died Sunday during a medical examination.
Credit Oklahoma City Zoo

The Oklahoma City Zoo says an aging black rhinoceros died during a medical exam.

The zoo says 32-year-old Marsha had become lethargic with a decreased appetite, so staff members decided to perform an exam. The zoo says Marsha died during the examination Sunday morning.

Preliminary reports from a necropsy indicate that Marsha likely fell ill because of age-related issues. The zoo says the combined median age of male and female black rhinos is 17.8 years.

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Code Switch
6:55 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Poll Focuses On Views From A Wide Array Of Latino Americans

Walter Olivares

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 11:14 am

You've probably heard a lot about "the Latino voter" or the way companies are trying to win over "the Latino consumer."

It's a cliché to point out that Latinos, like every other ethnic group, are not monolithic. But let's say it one more time, anyway: Latinos are not monolithic.

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The Two-Way
8:03 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Two Killed, Others Hurt In Omaha Plant Explosion

The wrecked International Nutrition plant in Omaha, Neb., where a fire and explosion took place on Monday.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 10:49 pm

Update at 9:02 p.m. EST. All Workers Account For:

In a press conference Monday evening Omaha Police Lt. Darci Tierney said all of the 38 workers in the building have been accounted for. Officials say two died, 10 were hospitalized and seven others were hurt but refused treatment. The remaining 19 workers escaped.

Interim Fire Chief Bernard Kanger said that one body had been recovered but did not identify the person because the family has yet to be notified.

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Around the Nation
8:01 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Mentally Ill Are Often Locked Up In Jails That Can't Help

Mentally ill inmates who are able to shower, eat, sit quietly and otherwise care for themselves live in the jail's Division 2. A psychologist is stationed right outside the room, and officers are specially trained to deal with psychotic episodes.
Laura Sullivan NPR

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 8:55 am

Cook County, Ill., Sheriff Tom Dart walks the halls of his jail every day. With 10,000 inmates, this place is a small city — except a third of the people here are mentally ill.

Dart has created some of the most innovative programs in the country to handle mentally ill inmates, hiring doctors and psychologists, and training staff. But if you ask anyone here, even this jail is barely managing.

"I can't conceive of anything more ridiculously stupid by government than to do what we're doing right now," Dart says.

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U.S. Senate
7:24 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Lankford Announces Bid For Coburn's Senate Seat

U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) announces his Senate candidacy at the Oklahoma History Center on Monday.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

U.S. Rep. James Lankford on Monday announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The seat is opening early because Senator Tom Coburn, who is battling cancer, is resigning at the end of the current congressional session.

Lankford’s first pitch for the higher office focused as much on the federal government’s failings as his congressional accomplishments.

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OKC Thunder
6:13 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Kevin Durant Flying High

Credit Keith Allison / Flickr.com

Kevin Durant is putting up points like never before, and that's quite an accomplishment for a three-time NBA scoring champion.

The 6-foot-9 forward couldn't have picked a better time to raise his level of play for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 13 games since All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook was sidelined after surgery on his right knee, Durant has averaged 35.8 points.

Durant scored a career-high 54 points in a 127-121 win over Golden State last Friday, a performance that brought "MVP!" chants from the crowd.

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