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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Child Care
11:38 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Oklahoma Child Care Facility Settles With Feds Over Disabled Child

Credit DonkeyHotey

The Department of Justice has entered into an agreement with an Oklahoma-based child care facility that was found to have discriminated against a child with Down's Syndrome.

Under the agreement, Camelot Development Center will provide annual training on working with children with developmental disabilities and make modifications to try to allow the child to take field trips.

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Earthquakes
10:51 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Earthquakes Continue To Shake Edmond, Enid Areas

Amanda and Keith Erwin, of Edmond, say they're learning to live with near-daily earthquakes. The Erwins have written letters to both of their state lawmakers asking them to investigate.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

More earthquakes have rocked Oklahoma.

A preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a 2.5 magnitude earthquake struck 24 miles northwest of Healdton, in south-central Oklahoma, at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

It had a depth of 3.1 miles.

Another earthquake centered near Edmond struck at around 3:45 p.m. Tuesday. The 2.8 magnitude quake had a depth of 3.1 miles and was located 4 miles southeast of Edmond and 11 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

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OKC Thunder
9:45 am
Thu November 28, 2013

OKC Thunder Fan Wins, Could Lose Spot On Kansas Team

Cameron Rodriguez
Credit Southwestern College, KS Athletics

An Oklahoma City Thunder fan who hit a half-court shot for $20,000 may not be able to keep both the money and his eligibility to compete in college sports.

Cameron Rodriguez, a sophomore forward for the Southwestern College Moundbuilders basketball team, sank the promotional shot Nov. 18 during the Thunder's home game against the Denver Nuggets. The 23-year-old is from Elk City, Okla.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:06 am
Thu November 28, 2013

On Thanksgiving, Everybody Needs A Friend — And That Means Everybody

Blue_Cutler iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 7:08 am

Last December, a website called The Morning News asked me to describe the most important and unimportant events of my year. So I sent them a story that felt like both to me, something slight but at the same time deeply rich. Now that it's Thanksgiving, I'm going to post it here because it's about two girls who want the best for everybody — and that can get complicated.

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The Two-Way
8:34 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Fly On, Snoopy (And Friends): Macy's Parade Balloons Get All-Clear

Workers prepare the giant Snoopy balloon before the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday in New York.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 8:51 am

Updated at 9:06 a.m. ET on Nov. 28.

The show will go on, giant balloons and all: Snoopy, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Pikachu and 12 other massive balloons will fly in the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York police say.

Forecasts had called for winds close to the maximum that New York City will allow for the balloons — some as tall as a five-story building — to fly over the parade route.

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Prisons
8:32 am
Thu November 28, 2013

More Women Graduating From Oklahoma Prison Diversion Program

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White
Credit ok.gov

A third group of women will graduate from a prison diversion program next week.

The women are part of the ReMerge of Oklahoma County program. The four-phase program offers an alternative for pregnant women and mothers facing incarceration from non-violent felony convictions.

The commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be at the ceremony. It's scheduled for Dec. 5 at Chesapeake Energy Corp.

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Business
8:24 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Retailers Hope 'Gray Thursday' Boosts Bottom Line

K-Mart was one of the chains deciding to open early this Thanksgiving Day.
Jan Somma-Hammel Staten Island Advance /Landov

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 1:06 am

You are not imagining it, the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier. Black Friday has been around for decades — that's the point where retailers hope to begin to make a profit.

Shoppers looking to get a jump on deals can shop on Gray Thursday – think Black Friday intruding into Thanksgiving Day.

This Turkey Day, many national chains will open their doors early in an effort to boost sales. K-Mart opened at 6 a.m.

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Legislator To Run For Senate
6:17 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Republican Going After Democrat's Vacated Seat

Credit Wright914 / Flickr.com

A Republican state legislator from Claremore says he plans to run for a Senate seat being vacated by Democratic state Sen. Sean Burrage.

Rep. Marty Quinn announced Wednesday his plans to run for the seat in Rogers and Mayes counties. Burrage announced earlier this week his plans to leave the Senate after his current term ends to spend more time at his home in Claremore.

Elected to the House in 2010, Quinn runs an insurance company in Rogers County.

Republicans currently hold a 36-12 advantage over Democrats in the Senate.

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1941 Law Repealed
4:36 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Black Friday Legal Reality For Oklahoma Shoppers

Credit AshleyDeee_ / Flickr.com

Oklahoma residents for the first time in 70 years will be able to legally enjoy the true meaning of Black Friday and its mega-deals after legislators repealed parts of a law that prohibited retailers from selling items below cost.

Low-price retail events, in which retailers price items at a steep discount to attract shoppers, were technically illegal in Oklahoma. That's because of a 1941 law called the Unfair Sales Act required retailers to sell products for at least 6 percent more than they paid for it.

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The Two-Way
11:37 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Judge Smooths Path For American-US Airways Merger

Cleared for takeoff: That's the message from the "new" American Airlines, after a bankruptcy judge ruled it could finalize its merger with US Airways Wednesday.
Brandon Wade AP

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 12:22 pm

A U.S. judge says American Airlines can exit bankruptcy and join forces with US Airways Group, all but ensuring that their merger can take place within weeks. Wednesday's bankruptcy court ruling was one of the final hurdles for a huge merger that's been in the works for more than a year.

The ruling by Judge Sean Lane comes months after he gave his preliminary approval to the plan. The two companies are now planning to finalize their merger on Dec. 9, when they would combine to create the world's largest airline.

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