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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Parallels
7:45 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Israel Dreams Of A Future As An Oil Producer

Givot Olam CEO Tovia Luskin expects to drill 40 wells and build a pipeline to a refinery on the coast. The company already has "proven and probable" reserves of 12.5 million barrels of oil. Luskin chose where to drill based on a passage from the Bible.
Emily Harris/ NPR

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 7:51 am

There's an old joke that if Moses had turned right when he led Jewish tribes out of Egypt, Israel might be where Saudi Arabia is today — and be rich from oil. Consultant Amit Mor of Eco Energy says that joke is out of date.

"Israel has more oil than Saudi Arabia," he claims. "And it's not a joke."

But that oil will be difficult to reach, if it can be recovered at all. The oil he's talking about is not yet liquid but is trapped in rocks underground.

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Sweetness And Light
6:34 am
Wed November 27, 2013

The Horse Who Picked Up A Paintbrush

Metro Meteor, a retired racehorse, stands with owners Ron and Wendy Krajewski and one of his paintings at Motters Station Stables in Rocky Ridge, Md., earlier this year.
Jeffrey B. Roth Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 9:55 am

This is a Thanksgiving story about a horse. Actually, a horse artist. I don't mean an artist who paints horses, like Degas or Remington, but a horse who paints — and thereby also raises money for less fortunate horses.

Really.

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Food
6:32 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Squash Your Thanksgiving With Tips From The Test Kitchen

Joe Keller Courtesy America's Test Kitchen

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 12:23 pm

Squash is the ultimate Thanksgiving food, not turkey. So says Chris Kimball, host of the PBS show America's Test Kitchen.

"Of all the things they served in that first Thanksgiving, there might not have been turkey," Kimball says. Early revelers may have dined on small birds or venison. "The one thing we know they did have was squash. So, if you want to go back to the first Thanksgiving, this is the item to start with."

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First Time In United States
6:13 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Boathouse Foundation Will Host 2014 World Championships

Credit peggydavis66 / Flickr.com

The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation and the United States Olympic Committee have renewed a contract to use the Boathouse District as a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site.

The district houses 40 national team athletes who compete in rowing, para-rowing and canoe/kayak. It also has served as a community-based Paralympic Sport Club.

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Law
5:11 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Supreme Court Takes Challenge To Obamacare Contraceptive Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take another case involving the Affordable Care Act, this time a challenge to the provision that for-profit companies that provide health insurance must include contraceptive coverage in their plans offered to employees.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 5:55 pm

President Obama's Affordable Care Act will be back before the Supreme Court this spring. This time, the issue is whether for-profit corporations citing religious objections may refuse to provide contraceptive services in health insurance plans offered to employees.

In enacting the ACA, Congress required large employers who offer health care services to provide a range of preventive care, including no-copay contraceptive services. Religious nonprofits were exempted from this requirement, but not for-profit corporations.

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Faces Four Years To Life
4:54 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Capt. Randy Harrison Found Guilty

Credit steakpinball / Flickr.com

An Oklahoma police captain has been found guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the death of an unarmed teenager who was running away after a scuffle.

Jurors on Tuesday convicted Capt. Randy Trent Harrison of the Del City Police Department in suburban Oklahoma City in the death of Dane Scott Jr.

Harrison told jurors Monday that he had no choice but to shoot Scott on March 14, 2012. Harrison had disarmed Scott during a scuffle but said he believed the 18-year-old was reaching for another handgun.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:16 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

High Methane Emissions In Oklahoma, Neighbors Linked To Oil And Gas

Correlations between propane and CH4 at NOAA/DOE aircraft observation sites in Oklahoma (A) and Texas (B) over 2007–2012. Correlations are higher in these locations than at any other North American sites.
Credit Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

A new comprehensive study of atmospheric data has found methane gas emissions from the Oklahoma region to be more than twice as high as previously thought. Researchers have linked the greenhouse gas emissions to oil and gas drilling and refining.


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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:55 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

OKC Steps Up Water Conservation Effort, Levying Fines And Giving Skeptics Hope

A grounded boat dock at Canton Lake, where Oklahoma City got billions of gallons of water in early 2013.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust has taken a lot of criticism the past few years over how it’s gone about securing enough water to meet the city’s needs.

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Holiday Travel
1:13 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Oklahoma Gas Prices Creep Above $3 Per Gallon

Credit futureatlas.com / Flickr Creative Commons

The average price of a gallon of gas in Oklahoma inched above $3 heading into the busy holiday travel week.

AAA Oklahoma says it's the first time since Nov. 4 that unleaded gas averaged more than $3 per gallon in the state. Still, Oklahoma has the second-lowest gas price in the country, only trailing Missouri's average of $2.99 per gallon.

The AAA says the national average price of gas has increased for 14 straight days, jumping 11 cents to an average of $3.29 per gallon on Tuesday.

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Affordable Care Act
11:17 am
Tue November 26, 2013

UPDATE: Supreme Court Will Take Up Hobby Lobby Health Law Dispute

Credit Fan of Retail / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court has agreed to referee another dispute over President Obama's health care law, whether businesses can use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees.

(Updated at 4:33 p.m. with a statement from U.S. Rep. James Lankford [R-Okla. 5])

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