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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Sports
3:14 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Thunder's Westbrook Out Until After All-Star Break

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
Credit Keith Allison / Flickr

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has undergone arthroscopic knee surgery and won't return until after the All-Star break.

General manager Sam Presti says in a statement Friday that Westbrook has been playing pain free, but "recently had experienced increased swelling" in his right knee.

Presti says the team consulted with a surgeon in Los Angeles and an MRI determined there was "an area of concern that had not previously existed."

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Here & Now
1:45 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

2013: A Look Back At The Year In Tech

A developer, Loic Le Meu selected for Google Glass explorer edition shows off his device. (Wikimedia Commons)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:15 pm

This year started with high expectations for Google Glass and other wearable technology, but even by the end of the year those devices haven’t really reached the mainstream.

Companies like Samsung and Snapchat saw great success, while others had a few flops.

NPR technology correspondent Steve Henn joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to look at the year in technology.

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Prisons
7:45 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Fallin Attorney Says Prison Staffing Is Not A Problem For Oklahoma

Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
Credit duggar11 / Flickr Creative Commons

Despite a recent report that Oklahoma's ratio of prison guards to offenders is among the worst in the nation, Governor Mary Fallin's top attorney says he doesn't believe safety is being compromised at the state's prisons.

Fallin's general counsel Steve Mullins said Thursday he meets regularly with the interim director of the Department of Correction and is not concerned there is a problem with staffing at the state's prisons.

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StoryCorps
7:26 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Recalling His Inspiration, A Neurosurgeon Thanks A Teacher

After a patient told neurosurgeon Lee Buono to thank the teacher who inspired him, he called up Al Siedlecki.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:06 am

This story originally aired on Weekend Edition on Sept. 25, 2011.

As a middle-school student in the 1980s, Lee Buono stayed after school one day to remove the brain and spinal cord from a frog. He did such a good job that his science teacher told him he might become a neurosurgeon someday.

That's exactly what Buono did.

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Fills Vacancies On Council
6:15 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Fallin Makes Appointments To Science And Tech Council

Credit Fort Sill Cannoneer / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin has named four new members to a council that works to grow the science and technology industries in the state.

Each of the new members to the Governor's Science and Technology Council are filling a vacancy on the 18-person council.

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Certification To Native Language Instructors
4:16 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Rule Change Benefits Native Languages In Oklahoma

Credit katiew / Flickr.com

A new rule change implemented this year by the Oklahoma State Department of Education allows the state to grant an annual certification to American Indian language instructors to teach tribal languages in public schools.

The Oklahoman reports that the rule change aims to address the shrinking number of people who are fluent speakers in their native languages. The change also allows students to receive graduation credit for taking the courses.

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Governing
12:51 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

In 2013, Federal Workers Found New Reason To Be Unhappy

Cindy VanDerwerker, a maintenance worker at Saratoga National Historical Park, clears leaves from a walkway on Oct. 17 in Stillwater, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:08 pm

Elizabeth Lytle is an administrative program assistant with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago — "a glorified name for a secretary," she says.

If Lytle isn't thrilled with her title, she's even less enamored of her job.

"The morale is just unbelievably low because we're never recognized," Lytle says. "Management doesn't seem to go to bat for us."

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Shots - Health News
12:45 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Common Knee Surgery May Help No More Than A Fake Operation

Knee pain is common, but surgery isn't necessarily the answer, researchers say.
Inna Jacquemin iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 7:09 am

Go to the doctor with knee pain, and they might say you've got a meniscus tear and need surgery to fix it. But surgery for this common problem might not be any better at relieving pain than having no surgery at all, according to researchers who went to the trouble of performing fake surgery to find out.

The gold standard for medical research is a randomized controlled trial, but it's hard to sign people up if they might undergo pretend surgery.

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State Capitol
11:49 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Randy Brogdon To Challenge Gov. Fallin For GOP Nomination

Randy Brogdon
Credit Randy Brogdon for Governor Website

A website attributed to former state Sen. Randy Brogdon says he plans to file paperwork this week to run against incumbent Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

Brogdon lost to Fallin in the 2010 Republican primary. He announced his run through social media, and the Secretary of State says a "Brogdon for Governor" corporation was formed last week.

Brogdon told the Tulsa World on Thursday he is "compelled" to fight for liberty.

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Winter Weather
8:22 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Freezing Fog Ices OKC Bridges, Snarling Traffic

Traffic sits at a standstill I-40 eastbound through downtown Oklahoma City early Thursday morning. Freezing fog caused icy bridges and overpasses in parts of Oklahoma.
Credit Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has closed part of Interstate 40 eastbound in Oklahoma City because of multiple accidents and icy conditions.

The highway patrol says it closed I-40 eastbound at the Dallas and Fort Smith junctions because of the accidents and road conditions. A freezing fog advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. Thursday.

The highway patrol says the closure includes the ramps for southbound Interstate 235 and northbound Interstate 35 to eastbound Interstate 40.

There were no immediate reports of injuries with the crashes.

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