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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Oklahoma Watch
1:35 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

With Hundreds Of Suicides Each Year, New Offensives Are Under Way To Reduce The Toll

Brandon Magalassi
Credit Provided

The aftermath of a suicide is an endless tunnel – of pain, regrets and questions.

Could something have been done to stop him? Why did she do it? What warning signs were there?

The act of taking one’s life leaves no easy answers for those left behind.

“The majority of people who are survivors spend the rest of their lives not talking about this and suffering in silence,” said Mike Brose, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, which will soon rename itself as as statewide group. “You don’t necessarily get over it, but you can get better.”

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The Two-Way
12:28 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Death Toll Rising After Storms Explode Over Midwest

A firefighter searches through debris in Washington, Ill., on Sunday. Tornadoes and severe weather roared through the area earlier in the day.
Tasos Katopodis Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 11:41 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': WCBU's Denise Molina reports on the storms that hit Illinois
  • From the NPR Newscast: Jean Cochran rounds up the storm news

Update at 12:25 p.m. ET. Two Deaths In Michigan:

The number of people killed by powerful storms that pummeled parts of the upper Midwest on Sunday has risen to at least eight.

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History
12:25 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

How JFK Fathered The Modern Presidential Campaign

John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, campaign in New York in 1960.
AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 2:33 pm

When John F. Kennedy began his run for the White House more than 50 years ago, there was plenty of excitement and anticipation. He was energetic, handsome and from a famous Boston political family.

But his candidacy was far from a sure bet. At the time, few would have predicted the lasting impact his campaign would have on every election to follow.

Recognizing The Power Of TV

Kennedy made the most of his youth and novelty, says historian Robert Dallek, author of several books about JFK.

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Oklahoma Voices
10:57 am
Mon November 18, 2013

How America Became More Politically Polarized

Thomas Patterson

The political polarization of the United States continues to capture the attention of politicians and political observers.

On this episode of Oklahoma Voices we hear more from Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government on the subject.

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Memorial Institute For The Prevention of Terrorism
10:02 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Oklahoma City-Based Counterterrorism Program May Shut Down

Credit Provided / Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism

An Oklahoma City-based institute that offers free counterterrorism training to police officers may be shutting down.

The Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism has trained more than 16,000 police officers since 2000. But in September the institute lost its federal funding, which it gets from the Department of Homeland Security, and is now in danger of closing.

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Open Records
8:57 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Oklahoma Pardon And Parole Board Trial Postponed

Credit Ronny Richert / Flickr Creative Commons

Trial has been postponed for members of Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board who face misdemeanor charges of violating the state's Open Meeting Act.

The board's five members were scheduled to go to trial in Oklahoma County District Court on Monday. But the board's chairman, Marc Dreyer of Tulsa, said Friday that prosecutors and defense attorneys have agreed to postpone the trial. No new date has been set.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
6:34 am
Mon November 18, 2013

McNellie's Pub Raises $28K For Tornado Relief, Motivated By Community Involvement

James E. McNellie's Public House - Oklahoma City
Credit Kate Carlton

Six months after a series of devastating tornados touched down in Central Oklahoma, we’re taking a look back this week at the recovery effort.  In the aftermath of the storms, private charities raised close to $70 million, and tens of millions more in in-kind donations poured into the region.  But some of that aid was more helpful than others.

In part one of our series today, we look at local businesses who donated their proceeds and the balance between good public relations and an altruistic desire to help.

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Remembrances
3:55 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

How Writer Doris Lessing Didn't Want To Be Remembered

Author Doris Lessing died Sunday at the age of 94. Lessing won the 2007 Nobel Prize for literature for a life's work which included around 40 books and collections of essays and memoirs.
Shaun Curry AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 9:42 am

In the course of a long and eventful life, author Doris Lessing was many things.

She was a mother — and a self-described "house mother" for a procession of starving artists, writers and political refugees. She was a refugee herself, from bourgeois respectability in 1940s Rhodesia. She was a campaigner against racism, a lover, an ardent communist, and a serial rescuer of cats.

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The Two-Way
1:56 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

Tornadoes In Illinois Cause 'Severe Damage'

A satellite image showing severe weather as it moves through the midwest area of the United States on Sunday.
NOAA Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 9:49 pm

(This post was last updated at 5:16 p.m. ET.)

A line of storms moving through the country's midsection has already produced a few damaging tornadoes and the National Weather Service predicts that major severe weather could break out as the system moves east.

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Parallels
3:26 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

Like Food And Water, Women's Safety A Priority For Relief Aid

A mother breastfeeds her baby inside a chapel that was turned into a makeshift hospital after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines.
John Lavellana Reuters/Landov

In natural disasters and war zones, food and water aren't the only basic needs, aid and human rights groups say.

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