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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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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The Two-Way
11:02 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Ford Hopes New Mustang Will Get The World's Motor Running

The new 2015 Ford Mustang was unveiled Thursday. The car's new design includes features that are geared toward global markets.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 11:19 am

Ford unveiled its new Mustang on Thursday, in a splashy event that was undermined a bit by leaked photos that showed the new model's design. And the Mustang will be sold around the globe for the first time since the car was introduced nearly 50 years ago.

From Michigan Radio, Tracy Samilton filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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State Capitol
10:57 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Oklahoma's State Technology Leader Leaving For Oregon

Alex Pettit
Credit State of Oklahoma

Oklahoma's first chief information officer who helped lead a consolidation of the state's computer and information technology systems is leaving to take a similar post in Oregon.

Gov. Mary Fallin announced Thursday that Oklahoma's CIO Alex Pettit will leave his post on Jan. 4. Pettit was appointed by former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry in 2010 after the Legislature passed a law authorizing the position to oversee Oklahoma'sinformation and technology operations.

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Winter Storm
10:13 am
Thu December 5, 2013

It's Almost Here: Winter Storm Pushing Into Oklahoma

A winter storm will affect the area with two waves of precipitation Thursday and early Friday. The freezing rain in southeast Oklahoma will cause an ice storm with 1/4 to 3/4 inch accumulation.
Credit Norma Forecast Office / National Weather Service

CLOSINGS FROM 5NEWS

A strong winter storm pushing its way across the region is already leading to the  closing of schools,  holiday and many other activities.

The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association has pushed high school football playoff games to next week.

OKC METRO SNOW ROUTES

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Prescription Drugs
9:45 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Prescription Discounts Available For Some Needy Oklahomans

Credit James Martin / Flickr

Cards that provide a discount on prescription medications for the needy in Oklahoma will be offered through a partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

The food bank announced the partnership with Watertree Health in which every person served by the food bank will be given a free Regional Food Bank Prescription card.

Food bank officials say the card is good for discounts on both brand name and generic prescriptions and is accepted at a variety of outlets and pharmacies that fill prescriptions.

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Parallels
8:27 am
Thu December 5, 2013

China's Military Buildup Reignites Worries In Asia, Beyond

Chinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning as it travels toward a military base in Sanya, Hainan province, in this undated picture made available on Nov. 30.
China Stringer Network Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 11:18 am

China has been building up its military strength for some time now, and pushing ever farther from its coastline and into international waters. The real concern now is for miscalculation — particularly with Japan — that ends up in gunfire.

Just six months ago, the Pentagon released its annual report on China's military. Its defense budget was growing. The country was building more stealthy aircraft and submarines. It even bought an aircraft carrier from the Ukraine.

Pentagon official David Helvey highlighted particular areas of concern.

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Common Core
8:14 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Despite Opposition, State Education Officials Say Repeal Of Common Core Standards ‘Unlikely’

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. More Oklahoma Watch content can be found at www.oklahomawatch.org

Despite continued opposition to new public-school standards, Oklahoma education officials say they are more confident than they were earlier this year that the standards will be fully implemented.

In a national survey conducted by the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University, Oklahoma State Department of Education officials indicated in May that it was “somewhat likely” that the state’s decision to adopt Common Core State Standards would be reversed, limited or changed, according to a copy of the survey obtained by Oklahoma Watch through an Open Records Act request.

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Same-Sex Couples Benefit Requests Processed
8:19 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Fallin Directive To National Guard Causes Little Disruption

Credit regionalfoodbank / Flickr.com

Nearly a month after a directive by Gov. Mary Fallin changed the way the Oklahoma National Guard handles marriage benefits, Guard officials say the change has caused little disruption.

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