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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Teachers And Firefighters Effective Lobbyists
5:09 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Groups Form Coalition To Fight Pension Changes

Credit Katsrcool / Flickr Creative Commons

Groups representing teachers, firefighters and prison workers have formed a coalition to fight a plan by the Legislature to make changes to Oklahoma's public retirement systems.

Members of "Keep Oklahoma's Promises" met Wednesday at the Capitol following a joint meeting of a House and Senate committee that is looking to shift newly hired state workers from a traditional defined benefit pension plan to more of a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

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Parallels
4:07 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

A Chronic Problem In Disaster Zones: No Fuel

Filipino men stand in line to fill containers with gas in Tacloban, Philippines, on Sunday. The area experienced widespread gas shortages in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 6:00 pm

In the wake of any natural disaster, there are almost always shortages of fuel. Even in the United States, gas stations shut down during blackouts because there's no electricity to run their pumps.

It was no different in the Philippines, where practically no fuel was available after Typhoon Haiyan struck. Aid agencies said the lack of gasoline was a major impediment to relief efforts.

One small American nonprofit called the Fuel Relief Fund is trying to change that.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:22 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

To Get Data On Disposal Well Earthquakes, State Might Create One

Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

While there is a growing amount of scientific research that links central-Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm to wells the oil and gas industry uses for waste-fluid disposal, geophysicists and seismologists don’t fully understand the phenomenon.

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The Two-Way
1:12 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey Among 16 Honored At White House

From one president to another: Former President Bill Clinton receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from current President Obama.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 7:04 pm

A former president, a baseball legend, a country music star and a woman who's a powerhouse in American media were among 16 people honored Wednesday at the White House with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Native American
11:51 am
Wed November 20, 2013

VIDEO: Congress Honors Native American Code Talkers

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) speaking during a ceremony Wednesday honoring Native American Code Talkers.
Credit Speaker of the House John Boehner / YouTube

The Cherokee Nation and Comanche Nation were among more than 30 tribes who received a Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony Wednesday to honor Native American Code Talkers.

Congress passed an act in 2008 recognizing the work of the Code Talkers who used their native language to pass messages to confuse the enemy during World Wars I and II.

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, one of only a few Native Americans in Congress, spoke during the ceremony.

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The Two-Way
10:39 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Hospitals Say They Had Room To Help Before Virginia Tragedy

The Millboro, Va., home of state Sen. Creigh Deeds. He was attacked there Tuesday — authorities believe by his son Gus. The younger Deeds then may have fatally shot himself, investigators say.
Don Petersen AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 7:00 pm

Update at 8 p.m. ET. State IG Opens Investigation

The Washington Post reports that the state's Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation into why the son of Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds was released from custody the day before the stabbing.

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Parallels
10:20 am
Wed November 20, 2013

What You Need To Know About The Iranian Nuclear Talks

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament during the 68th U.N. General Assembly in September.
Mike Segar AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 11:21 am

If you've ignored the countless rounds of fruitless talks on Iran's nuclear program for the past decade, you haven't missed much. But today would be a good day to start paying attention.

Iran and six world powers are meeting in Geneva on Wednesday in an attempt to reach an interim agreement that would, at minimum, freeze Iran's nuclear program.

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Native American
9:40 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Cherokee Nation Calls For More Education On Native American Removal

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker
Credit Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation representatives say a banner displayed during a high school football game that recalled the Trail of Tears shows the need to continue educating students nationwide about the Indian removal era.

Administrators of McAdory High School in McAlla and Jefferson County schools officials have apologized for a banner shown during a Friday night game which said McAdory's opponents, the Indians, should "Get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears."

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The Two-Way
9:24 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Life Is Slowly Returning To Shattered Philippine City

Some people marched in the rain Tuesday in the Philippine city of Tacloban, which was crushed by Typhoon Haiyan.
David Guttenfelder AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 6:01 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Anthony Kuhn, in the Philippines, talks with Steve Inskeep

There was almost nothing left standing or working in the Philippines city of Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan tore through on Nov. 8.

No electricity. No clean water. No undamaged buildings.

As one official told NPR's Anthony Kuhn, "we have citizens, but no city."

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Hold Onto That Water, Cash Is King In Crises

Pallets of water fill one of Feed the Children's Oklahoma City warehouses.
Credit Kate Carlton

Six months after a series of tornadoes tore through the Oklahoma City area, we’re looking back this week at the role of private donations in the recovery effort. 

Whenever a disaster strikes, Oklahomans and people from across the country generally pitch in and do whatever they can to help.  But in the final part of our series,  we find despite people’s best intentions, oftentimes the help that arrives is not the help that’s needed most. 

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