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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Best Music Of 2013
8:03 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Heavy Rotation: Public Radio's Songs Of 2013

British songwriter Laura Mvula was a favorite on public radio stations around the country.
Larry Hirshowitz KCRW

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 10:15 am

This audio is no longer available.

Our friends in the public radio system are some of the most open-minded listeners we know. Each month, our Heavy Rotation series brings you free downloads of what our fellow programmers and producers are experiencing on repeat.

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The Two-Way
7:53 am
Thu December 12, 2013

It's 'Not Great,' But Budget Deal Is Expected To Pass In The House

Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 5:44 pm

The House is expected to vote Thursday on the bipartisan deal that would set spending levels for the next two years, replace many of the indiscriminate "sequester" budget cuts and, in theory at least, take off the table one of the most partisan of the many partisan issues that have contributed to the gridlock in Washington.

NPR's Tamara Keith tells our Newscast desk that passage is expected but not certain. She adds that:

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:13 am
Thu December 12, 2013

A Wet Year Doesn’t Mean Any Part of Oklahoma Is Safe From Drought In 2014

The latest update of drought conditions in Oklahoma.
Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

Parts of Oklahoma have been suffering from severe and exceptional drought conditions for three straight years. That is a long time, especially for communities in western Oklahoma.

But this drought might be closer to its beginning than its end, and with little warning could encompass the entire state next year.

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Camera In Women's Restroom
6:44 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

McAlester Man Charged With Three Counts of Video Voyeurism

Credit Tim Dobson / Flickr.com

A 55-year-old McAlester man is charged in federal court with three counts of video voyeurism for allegedly setting up a hidden camera to record women in a restroom.

Authorities said Wednesday that Kenneth Elkins, who worked at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, allegedly installed the camera in a women's bathroom there and viewed at least three separate victims.

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ACLU Files Lawsuit
6:36 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Hindu Leader Wants To Place Statue Of Deity At Capitol

Credit arjuna_zbycho / Flickr.com

A Hindu leader from Nevada is the latest to inquire about erecting a monument at the Oklahoma Capitol.

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U.S.
3:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

After Fight Over Colo. Gun Laws, Two Sides As Dug In As Ever

A man holds a sign advocating the recall of state Sen. John Morse in Colorado Springs, Colo., in September. Morse and a second state senator who backed the state's new gun control measures were recalled during a special election that month.
Matthew Staver Landov

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:47 pm

John Morse was president of the Colorado Senate until September, when he became the first elected official recalled in the state's history.

Three months later, he's climbing the rotunda steps of the gold-domed Capitol building — his office for seven years. He hasn't been here since October. Gazing up at the dome, he says, "This is one of my favorite things to do. That's my version of smelling the roses."

Morse's political career ended over the gun bills he pushed through these chambers eight months ago. But he says he would do it all again.

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Oklahoma News
3:25 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Feds: 1,600 Oklahomans Enroll In Federal Plan

Credit Omono / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials say more than 1,600 Oklahoma residents have successfully signed up for health insurance coverage in the first two months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.

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State Capitol
2:18 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Oklahoma Revenue Collections Continue To Fall Short

Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger
Credit Oklahoma PCA / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma finance officials say collections to the main operating fund used to pay for state government continue to trail the official estimate, a trend that could lead to budget cuts for state agencies if it continues.

Oklahoma's Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger released figures on Wednesday that show collections to the state's general revenue fund trail by nearly 8 percent the official estimate upon which the state budget is based. So far for the first five months of the current fiscal year, collections have trailed the official estimate by about 6.5 percent.

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It's All Politics
1:21 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

6 Things Missing From The Budget Agreement

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., walk to announce a tentative agreement Tuesday between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 2:46 pm

The essence of the budget deal reached by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is better understood by looking at what's missing, rather than what's included in it.

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Shots - Health News
12:37 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Health Exchange Enrollment By State, In 2 Charts

HHS

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 2:48 pm

Numbers released by the Obama administration show enrollment in health exchanges edged up in November, but the uptake remains far short of the administration's initial targets.

Roughly 264,000 people signed up for private insurance coverage last month through the federal and state exchanges, according to data from the Health and Human Services Department. That brings the total to about 364,000 for October and November.

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