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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Arts and Entertainment
1:07 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Fate Of Oklahoma Pop Culture Museum Remains Uncertain

An artist's rendering of the proposed Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) in Tulsa.
Credit Oklahoma Historical Society

Promoters of a museum dedicated to all things pop culture in Oklahoma plan to once again seek funding from the Legislature, but the fate of the Tulsa-based museum remains uncertain.

The Tulsa World reports the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, or OKPOP, would be a 75,000-square-foot building dedicated to the state's contributions in music, film, television, theater, pop art, comic books, literature and humor.

But state lawmakers have not yet committed to it for the 2015 fiscal year.

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The Two-Way
11:29 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Comet ISON Is No More, NASA Says

NASA took a series of images to create this "timelapse" view of comet ISON's trip around the sun.
NASA

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 5:02 pm

Comet ISON, a "shining green candle in the solar wind," is no longer with us, NASA declared Monday morning in a tribute to what many hoped would be the "comet of the century."

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Shots - Health News
8:56 am
Mon December 2, 2013

School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill.
Toni Greaves for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:35 pm

When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.

Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."

Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."

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Wintry Weather
8:44 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Snow, Freezing Rain, Ice Expected In Oklahoma This Week

Winter weather will be making a return to Oklahoma this week.
Credit Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

The National Weather Service says a cold air mass will move into northwest  Oklahoma Tuesday afternoon, bringing colder temperatures early Wednesday.

Forecasters say high temperatures will remain in the 20s and 30s from Thursday through Saturday. The weather service says overnight wind chill values will range from 0 degrees to 10 degrees.

Wintry precipitation is expected early Thursday until Friday afternoon.  Forecasters predict snow in northern Oklahoma and freezing rain that eventually turns to sleet and snow in central Oklahoma.

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The Two-Way
8:29 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Delivery By Drone? Amazon Says A New Era Looms

In an image taken of a test flight, an Amazon Prime Air drone carries a package. The online retailer could begin 30-minute deliveries within four to five years, CEO Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes Sunday.
Amazon

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 11:21 am

Amazon is looking at drastically reducing its delivery times — to 30 minutes or less — as it plans a new service called Prime Air that it says could debut in a few years. In an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, CEO Jeff Bezos said the giant online retailer plans to use semi-autonomous drones to carry purchases to customers.

That's got tech experts buzzing about whether the idea will fly.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Panel Highlights Different Reactions To 1999 And 2013 Moore Tornadoes

NOAA's Harold Brooks and Representative Joe Dorman speak at the Nov. 19 KGOU Panel.
Credit Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Ever since last spring’s tornado that destroyed two elementary schools and killed seven children in Moore, it’s been hard to escape the debate over school shelters. There are petitions circulating around the state, and everyone seems to have an opinion on the issue.

KGOU recently held a panel about funding these shelters and discovered people are approaching this differently than they did following the Moore tornado in 1999.

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Business
7:00 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Could Hawaii Become A Same-Sex Wedding Destination?

Sunset on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 12:27 pm

Starting Monday, same-sex marriage is legal in Hawaii. The state has long been a destination for weddings and honeymoons. And now state officials, as well as hotels and restaurants, are hoping the latest marriage-equality law will spur a new market for wedding tourism.

Wedding planner Keane Akao is showing off a secluded beach wedding site, one of several on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

"You can use the beach for pictures," he tells a couple, "and this is actually called Secret Beach."

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All Tech Considered
4:41 pm
Sun December 1, 2013

The Key Test For HealthCare.gov Is The Part You Can't See

HealthCare.gov is working more smoothly, but how well the invisible back-end is working is unclear." href="/post/key-test-healthcaregov-part-you-cant-see" class="noexit lightbox">
The consumer-facing part of HealthCare.gov is working more smoothly, but how well the invisible back-end is working is unclear.
NPR

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 6:55 pm

Calling the improvements "night and day" from October, the Obama administration says it has met its goal of getting the troubled HealthCare.gov site working for a "vast majority" of users. But that's only part of a complex technology system that is designed to end with insurance companies providing coverage for millions of consumers.

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The Two-Way
9:39 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Commuter Train Derails In The Bronx Killing 4

First responders gather around the derailment of a Metro North passenger train in the Bronx borough of New York on Sunday.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 2:51 am

(This post was last updated at 5:02 p.m. ET.)

A Metro-North commuter train derailed on Sunday in the Bronx borough of New York City, killing four passengers, and injuring 63.

WABC-TV in New York reports the train derailed at about 7:20 a.m., while navigating a curve just outside the Spuyten Duyvil station.

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Middle East
8:06 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Palestinian Refugees On Losing Side Of UN Budget Crunch

Palestinian refugee Lawahez Burghal stuffs tripe with rice and garbanzo beans for her family in their home in the Amari refugee camp in the West Bank. Many refugees still depend on the United Nations for food, health care and education.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 7:17 am

The United Nations agency that provides basic health care and education to Palestinian refugees doesn't have enough money to pay local salaries this month.

The shortfall could directly affect 30,000 teachers, doctors and social workers, as well as the people using their services in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

Filling Basic Needs

Sit for an hour in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency office in the al-Amari camp for Palestinian refugees, and you get a sense of what people expect the agency to provide.

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