Special Report: Auditing The Disaster Aid For 2013 Tornadoes And Storms

Federal public-assistance funds are paying for the rebuilding of Plaza Towers Elementary School, in which seven children died in the May 20, 2013, tornado. The school is expected to open next month.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

The tornadoes and storms that devastated Oklahoma and killed 34 last year triggered the release of tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid that will keep flowing for years.

To date, the federal government has approved up to $257 million in disaster assistance of various kinds to help re build damage and help victims of the winds and flooding that struck between May 18 and June 2, 2013, and to mitigate future risks.

The state has contributed an additional $10.5 million, and private insurers are paying about $1.1 billion. Charities also have pumped in aid.

The relief aid stemming from Disaster No. 4117, as it is called by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is arriving through several channels, heading ultimately to state and local agencies, contractors, businesses and individuals.

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Oil and Gas
6:48 am
Fri December 6, 2013

GE Picks Site Near Downtown Oklahoma City For New Oil And Gas Research Center

A rendering shows a new GE technology center near downtown Oklahoma City. Construction is scheduled to begin April 2014.
Credit GE

General Electric has picked a site near downtown Oklahoma City for the home of its new research center focused on the oil and gas industry.

The center is one of nine globally for the company. Former Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Mike Ming is the general manager of the GE Oil and Gas Technology Center.

Published reports say the new 95,000-square-foot center will be built at NE 10th and N. Walnut Ave., near the University Research Park.

Ming says the company is in final negotiations with the land's owner, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, OCURA.

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The Two-Way
6:37 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Snow, Freezing Rain Move East To Put A Chill On The Weekend

Snow and ice will hit a broad area from Texas to the Ohio Valley on Friday and Saturday, the National Weather Service says. This composite satellite image was taken at 6:15 a.m. ET Friday.
NOAA

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 7:48 pm

(This story was updated at 8:30 p.m. ET)

Wind-whipped freezing rain were moving through large parts of the nation on Friday, with the major winter storm blamed for a traffic death in Dallas and the deaths of four people from hypothermia in California.

The Associated Press says "more than a thousand flights have been canceled, football and basketball games postponed and holiday celebrations including town tree lightings and parades curtailed."

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The Two-Way
6:07 am
Fri December 6, 2013

World Reflects On The Life Of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela with South African President F.W. de Klerk in May 1990. Mandela died Thursday at 95.
Denis Farrell AP

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 7:18 am

Nelson Mandela, who became an icon of the struggle for racial equality during a decades-long struggle against South Africa's apartheid system, is being remembered across the globe on Thursday following his death at age 95.

Mandela died after a prolonged lung infection, which had been a recurring problem for him since his days as a prisoner of conscience on South Africa's Robben Island. He served 27 years at the notorious jail.

"He is now resting. He is now at peace," South African President Jacob Zuma said in an address to the nation.

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StoryCorps
5:53 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Adrift In Frigid Water, Not Caring 'If You Live Or Die'

On a visit to StoryCorps in Ohio, Dennis Hale recounted his experience surviving a shipwreck on Lake Huron to his wife, Barbara.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 9:49 am

It was 1966, and a ship called the Daniel J. Morrell was making its last run of the season, hauling steel across Lake Huron. The crew was eager to head home for Christmas. But one night, caught in a severe storm, the ship broke apart and sank.

Only a few of the crew members made it to a life raft, and only one of them, watchman Dennis Hale, survived.

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Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
4:05 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela, Inspiration To World, Dies At 95

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, one of the world's most respected statesmen, died Thursday at 95.
Denis Farrell AP

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 10:57 am

Nelson Mandela, who was born in a country that viewed him as a second-class citizen, died Thursday as one of the most respected statesmen in the world. He was 95.

President Jacob Zuma announced the death in a televised speech.

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Winter Storm
3:52 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Oklahoma Under State Of Emergency

Traffic is at a crawl along southbound I-235 just north of the Dallas junction late Thursday afternoon. Forecasters say travel will be particularly dangerous overnight into Friday.
Credit Elizabeth Gwartney

All 77 of Oklahoma's counties are under a state of emergency. Gov. Mary Fallin issued the order Thursday afternoon as icy roads and frigid temperatures moved in to the state.

A statement from the governor's office says emergency managers encouraged Fallin to declare the state of emergency before the full brunt of the storm arrives.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service say most of the snow and ice will fall in Oklahoma Thursday night into Friday.

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State Capitol
3:35 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Former Sen. Leftwich Guilty In Bribery Case

Former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich
Credit Oklahoma Senate

A former Democratic state senator has been found guilty for her role in a bribery scheme and received a one-year suspended sentence.

Former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich on Thursday waived her right to a jury trial and was found guilty by District Judge Cindy Truong of accepting a thing of value to withdraw as a candidate for office.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Leftwich will be allowed to appeal her felony conviction based on the defense theory that she was technically not a candidate for office.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:15 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

New Study Suggests Much Larger Methane Emissions From Oklahoma And Neighbors

A scientist at the Southern Great Plains research facility in Lamont, Okla., transfers air samples to a flask for transport back to a lab.
Credit U.S. Department of Energy

A new study of atmospheric methane in the United States suggests much higher levels than previously thought. The new data raises questions about the impact of natural gas production in Oklahoma and neighboring states, where emission estimates have more than doubled.

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Winter Storm
11:37 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Winter Storm Update From Norman Forecast Office

Credit Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

CLOSINGS FROM KOCO 5NEWS

A winter storm warning remains in effect for much of Oklahoma until 6 p.m. Friday. An ice warning is in effect for south central and southeastern portions of Oklahoma.

After a brief lull, a second round of precipitation will begin Thursday evening spreading southwest to northeast.

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State Capitol
11:31 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Yukon State Senator Not Seeking Re-Election

State Sen. Rob Johnson (R-Yukon)
Credit Oklahoma State Senate

A Republican state senator from Yukon says he won't seek re-election to his Senate seat in 2014.

Sen. Rob Johnson said Thursday he plans to leave the Legislature to spend more time with his family and focus on building his law practice in downtown Oklahoma City.

Johnson's Senate Dist. 22 seat includes most of the cities of Yukon, Piedmont and Deer Creek, along with parts of far west Edmond and Oklahoma City. It was previously held by his father, Republican Sen. Mike Johnson of Kingfisher.

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