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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Economy
8:26 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Mel Watt: A New Captain For America's Housing Market

Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., listens as President Obama announces his nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt was nominated in May, but Republicans blocked his confirmation until this week.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 11:19 am

Seven months after his was nominated, the U.S. Senate this week confirmed former Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant companies that control much of the mortgage market.

The vote occurred after Democrats changed the rules on filibusters — now the Senate can confirm presidential nominees with a simple majority.

For people who watch the U.S. housing market, Watt's confirmation is a very big deal that could mean easier credit.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
8:24 am
Fri December 13, 2013

One Year After Newtown, Still No Answer To 'Why'

A crime scene photo provided by the Connecticut State Police shows a rifle in the master bedroom in Adam Lanza's house.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:52 am

As Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy sped from Hartford to Newtown nearly a year ago, the death toll kept rising. When he arrived on the scene, he found himself in charge — and it fell to him to answer the question: How long should family members have to wait to learn that their loved ones were gone?

Malloy decided that he was going to do what he thought was right. Still, standing in front of more than two dozen families gathered in a firehouse, he doubted that it was.

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Politics and Government
5:37 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Oklahoma Delegation Splits On Budget Agreement

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) speaking on the House floor in support of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 - December 12, 2013.
Credit CSPAN / YouTube

Three members of Oklahoma’s House delegation voted for a budget bill backed by both President Obama, his Democratic allies and a big majority of the chamber's Republicans.

The 332-94 vote sends the measure to the Senate, where Republicans are more skeptical. But the Democratic-led chamber appears sure to adopt the measure next week and send it to Obama for his signature.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4) says House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) managed to find a budget compromise that will restore regular order.

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State Capitol
4:58 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Oklahoma State Agencies Seek More Than $1.1 Billion Spending Increase

Credit Katsrcool / Flickr Creative Commons

At least 37 state agencies hope to spend more than an additional $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2015, according to budget requests submitted to the Office of Management and Enterprises Services.

The agencies will be asking Gov. Mary Fallin and the Legislature to provide the bulk of that money, $806.0 million, the requests show.

The remainder would come from state revolving funds, $41.2 million, and the federal government, $277.2 million, the requests indicate.

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4:18 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

As Quakes Shake Oklahoma, Scientists Eye Oil And Gas Industry

Lead in text: 
Oklahoma has never been known as earthquake country, with a yearly average of about 50 tremors, almost all of them minor. But in the past three years, the state has had thousands of quakes. This year has been the most active, with more than 2,600 so far, including 87 last week.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Mary Catherine Sexton has been rattled enough. This fall her neighborhood in the northeastern part of this city has been shaken by dozens of minor earthquakes. "We would just have little trembles all the time," she said.
StateImpact Oklahoma
3:15 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Former Creek County Refinery Site Added To Superfund Priority List

A map from the EPA shows the location of the 125-acre Wilcox Oil Company Superfund site near Bristow, Okla.
Credit Environmental Protection Agency

A site near Bristow, abandoned decades ago by a pair of oil refiners, has been added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of most hazardous national cleanup priorities.

The EPA on Dec. 12 added the Wilcox Oil Company site to the Superfund National Priorities List, a federal program that investigates and directs cleanup efforts at the country’s “most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites.”

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Politics and Government
11:54 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Oklahoma Senator Coburn Joins Group To Abolish Ethanol Mandate

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
Credit Medill DC / Flickr.com

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is joining with a bipartisan group of senators to eliminate the mandate for blending corn ethanol into gasoline refined and consumed in the United States.

The Oklahoma Republican announced Thursday he was joining with California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and other co-sponsors on The Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013.

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Shots - Health News
11:15 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Scientists Turn To The Crowd In Quest For New Antibiotics

Yes, you could do this at home. Growing bacteria you find in a pile of dirt or a local pond might reveal the next big antibiotic.
Charlotte Raymond Science Source

Could you dig up the next antibiotic in your backyard? Two scientists would like you and, if they're lucky, millions of other people to give it a try.

The researchers hope that lots of do-it-yourself scientists around the world can come up with the next big idea for much-needed drugs.

There are plenty of precedents. Many blockbuster antibiotics were found in soil, where many bacteria produce chemicals to keep rivals out of their territory.

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Wind Energy
8:46 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Garfield County To Get New Wind Farm

A wind turbine near Calumet, Okla.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Plans are underway for a new wind farm in Garfield County.

The Enid News & Eagle reports that TradeWind Energy has filed a permit to build 29 turbines at a wind farm in Breckinridge. A spokeswoman for the company says the wind farm will generate 98.8 megawatts, or enough power for 40,000 Oklahoma homes.

TradeWind also handled the land and permit acquisition for another wind farm near Hunter that opened in September.

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OneSix8
8:32 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week: Holiday Sights And Sounds

Credit DC Central Kitchen

Holiday music accompanies us as we walk city streets throughout the month of December, in every shop and restaurant. The sounds of the season may well be your favorite soundtrack at home, too.

The UCO Jazz lab plays tribute to the season in their “Holidays at Home” concert this December 12 through the 14.

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