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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Health
6:26 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

First Case Of West Nile Virus Found In Oklahoma

Credit dr_relling / Flickr Creative Commons

The first case of West Nile virus in Oklahoma this year has been confirmed in a Major County resident.

The Oklahoma Department of Health said Thursday the victim is over the age of 50 but declined to release more details.

There were 84 cases of West Nile virus confirmed in Oklahoma last year, including eight deaths. Those infected ranged in age from 17 to 92 years.

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Material To Protect Astronauts
5:59 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

OSU Researchers Awarded Grant From NASA

Credit Paul Hudson / Flickr.com

A team of researchers from Oklahoma State University campuses in Tulsa and Stillwater have been awarded a $750,000 grant from NASA.

The grant announced by OSU on Thursday is for a project to develop a material that will protect astronauts from radiation during space missions.

The project is one of 15 selected for funding through the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

Researchers are working to develop a material that will shield astronauts from ionizing radiation during missions to asteroids near Earth, the moon and Mars.

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Media Tour Today
4:16 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Immigrant Kids Playing Soccer And Attending Class

Credit www.military.com

Federal officials have allowed members of the media to tour a temporary shelter at Fort Sill that is being used to house more than 1,000 teenage immigrants from Central America.

Participants in tours Thursday at the Army post in southwest Oklahoma were heavily restricted and prohibited from taking pictures, asking questions or interacting with staff or children at the shelter.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:44 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Four More State Parks At Risk As Budget Cuts And Low Revenue Loom

Credit Christopher Caldwell / Flickr Creative Commons

Four state parks in northeastern Oklahoma could be sold off, leased out or closed due to state budget cuts and low park revenue.

Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation hasn’t made a final decision on three of the parks, but is considering selling or leasing Disney/Little Blue Area at Grand Lake, Snowdale Area at Grand Lake and Spring River Canoe Trails.

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Oklahoma Politics
1:23 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Dorman Unveils "Classrooms First" Education Proposal

Democratic candidate for governor Joe Dorman talks about his "Classrooms First" education plan Thursday after being introduced by state Rep. Eric Proctor (left).

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 1:18 pm

Gov. Mary Fallin’s Democratic challenger wants to boost per-pupil spending on education by $50 by using the state’s franchise tax as a funding source.

"This will be set aside and earmarked completely for classroom funding," state Rep. Joe Dorman said Thursday at a news conference. "This will not go to salaries. It will not go to administrative costs. It will go to the tools needed by educators to educate those students to the level where they can achieve their highest potential."

There was a moratorium on franchise tax collections from 2010 to 2013. ​

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Here & Now
12:44 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Oil Train Workers Raise Questions About Safety

BNSF Railway, the second largest freight network in the U.S., is at the center of the boom in crude by rail. The railroad touts its commitment to safety. Current and former workers question the safety culture on the ground. (Michael Werner)

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 2:00 pm

Crude oil shipments by rail increased by more than 80 percent, nationally, last year. Most of it is coming from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That crude is more flammable than other types of oil, and has been shown to catch fire and explode when trains derail.

More than 15 trains of Bakken oil move through some parts of the Northwest each week, en route to refineries and terminals in Washington and Oregon.

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World Views
12:09 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Beyond Hollywood, 'Call Of Duty': Why Special Forces Are The Future Of The U.S. Military

Soldiers from the U.S. Special Forces review map data while conducting an operation in Panjawi district, Kandahar province July 10, 2010.
Sgt. David Russell U.S. Army

The so-called “light footprint strategy” has been a hallmark of President Obama’s military engagement strategy as he pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq and winds down the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. That drawdown of massive units of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilian support staff means a stronger reliance on smaller, more elite military groups.

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Oklahoma News
11:18 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Oklahoma Workers Comp Commission Lays Off More Than A Dozen Employees

Back injuries are a common workers' compensation claim.
Credit Darcie / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma's Workers Compensation Commission has laid off 16 employees as the organization transitions from a court-based system to an administrative one.

Commission Executive Director Rick Farmer confirmed the layoffs Wednesday but declined to identify the employees. Wednesday's layoffs bring the total number of staff from 74 to 58.

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OneSix8
10:33 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week With Golf, Woodyfest, A Disney Play And Opera

Two-time Major Champion and internationally recognized golfer Vijay Singh competes at the U.S. Senior Open on the Oak Tree National Golf Course in Edmond.
Credit www.TourProGolfClubs.com / Flickr Creative Commons

In the wake of Independence Day the family fun keeps rolling with golf and some on-stage delights.

Organizers at Oak Tree National Country Club and Golf Course in Edmond expect more than 120,000 spectators throughout the weekend for the U.S. Golf Association’s Senior Open.

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Immigration
9:07 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Former Oklahoma House Speaker, Governor Push Immigration Reform

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating
Jim Greenhill Flickr Creative Commons

Several Oklahoma Republican leaders have joined a nationwide coalition of business and manufacturing groups in urging Congress to pass immigration reform they say is vital to the nation's economy.

Former House Speaker Kris Steele and former Gov. Frank Keating wants the GOP and President Obama to work together to enact federal legislation on immigration.

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