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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World Views
1:29 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

SLIDESHOW: On The Road – UAE A Country Of Contradictions

Adding to the skyline of Abu Dhabi.
Suzette Grillot KGOU

World Views host Suzette Grillot and contributor Rebecca Cruise continue producing the program from the road as they travel around the world for their day jobs as the Deans of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies. The two visited the United Arab Emirates this week to meet with higher education officials in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:05 am
Fri January 17, 2014

20 Oklahoma Counties Designated Natural Disaster Areas Because Of Drought

The latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor as of Jan. 14, 2014.
Credit Provided / U.S. Drought Monitor

Oklahoma got a reminder this week that — despite a wet year for many parts of the state — drought continues to rage in other areas, mainly the south and southwest.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated counties in 11 states as primary natural disaster areas because of the drought, including 20 counties in Oklahoma.

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Calls For Limits On NSA's Collection Of Phone Data

President Obama speaks about the National Security Agency and intelligence agencies surveillance techniques during a speech Friday at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 1:20 pm

  • LISTEN: President Obama's national security address

(This post was most recently updated at 1:30 p.m. ET.)

Saying that "critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives," President Obama said Friday that he wants the National Security Agency to stop holding on to massive amounts of "metadata" about the phone calls and electronic communications of millions of people around the world.

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Gay Marriage
8:45 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Tulsa County Official Challenging Gay Marriage Ruling

A sign supporting gay marriage in California on the first day same-gender couples could legally marry there.
Credit Marc Love / flickr.com Creative Commons

Lawyers for the Tulsa County court clerk are appealing a federal judge's ruling that Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

A notice of appeal for Court Clerk Sally Howe was filed Thursday with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The three-page notice did not raise any arguments.

Howe was named as a defendant in the case after she refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple.

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U.S. Senate
10:09 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

VIDEO: Coburn To Leave Senate Seat

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) greeting President Barack Obama.
Credit Tom Coburn / Facebook

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) announced Thursday evening he will leave behind his Senate seat at the end of this Congress. That will leave two years remaining in his term.

The end of the current session is January 2015.

An email from Coburn's office said the decision to leave was not because of his health. He is a cancer survivor and was recently diagnosed with cancer again.

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Bill Passes Senate
7:02 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Inhofe Votes No On Budget, Coburn Doesn't Vote

Credit gage skidmore / Flickr.com

Republican Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe voted against a $1.1 trillion budget bill while fellow Republican Sen. Tom Coburn did not vote as the bill passed the Senate.

The bill eases many effects of last year's automatic budget cuts. It cleared the Senate on a 72-26 vote Thursday and now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Inhofe says he voted against the measure because he believes the bill contains cuts that he says are harming national security.

The bill funds every agency of government through September.

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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony In Stilwell
5:01 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Cherokee Nation To Open New Child Care Center

Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker
Credit Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation is scheduled to cut the ribbon on a new $4.2 million child development center in Stilwell.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday for the 19,000-square-foot child care center. The center will quadruple the size of an old center that was built in 1969. The new center features eight classrooms, four playgrounds, a culturally inspired reading circle area and a bell tower atop the building.

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Drought
1:30 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Drought Prompts Disaster Declarations In 11 States

Credit OakleyOriginals / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials have designated portions of Oklahoma and 10 other western and central states as primary natural disaster areas because of a drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's announcement Wednesday also includes counties in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, and California.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that he sympathizes with farmers and ranchers who are dealing with the lack of rain and snow, and assured them that the USDA will stand by them.

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Health
12:18 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Oklahoma Health Department Says 12 Have Died From Flu

Credit NHSE / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Department of Health says influenza has claimed 12 lives and forced the hospitalization of 399 people since the ongoing flu season began.

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The Two-Way
11:05 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Weekly Jobless Claims Hold Steady At Pre-Recession Level

The scene at a job fair in Marietta, Ga., last November.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 9:28 am

There were 326,000 first-time claims for jobless benefits filed last week, the Employment and Training Administration said Thursday.

While down only 2,000 from the previous week, claims did hold steady around the level where they were typically running before December 2007, when the economy slipped into its latest recession.

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