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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It's All Politics
8:02 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Monday Morning Political Mix: Obamacare Site Hits Another Snag

President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in Russia in September in happier times before revelations that the NSA electronically eavesdropped on U.S. allies.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 9:54 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's the last week of October. That means the administration has just a month to meet its self-imposed deadline to have the Affordable Care Act website running as efficiently as it and millions of Americans had originally envisioned.

But the first item in our Monday political mix of some of the more interesting tidbits that caught my eye this morning indicates why setting such a deadline might be easier than meeting it.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon October 28, 2013

National Weather Center Aims To "Prepare, Respond, Restore" At This Year's Festival

Katie Western as Swirl Girl and Rick Smith at the 2012 National Weather Festival.
Credit Kate-Lynn Walsh

Katie Western practices her lines for the upcoming National Weather Festival. She’s majoring in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and is one of the festival’s Weather Friends, a group of superheroes representing each kind of severe weather. Katie’s character goes by the name “Swirl Girl.” She’ll run around in a costume and answer questions about tornado preparedness. And even though it’s fun, Katie realizes her role may be more important this year than it has been in years past. 

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Around the Nation
6:13 am
Mon October 28, 2013

The Slow, Uneven Rebuilding After Superstorm Sandy

Samantha Langello and her daughter Alanna, 2, stand in front of their flood-damaged house in Fox Beach on Staten Island, N.Y.
Joel Rose NPR

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 10:33 am

After Hurricane Sandy, the south shore of Staten Island looked like it had been hit by a tsunami. The storm surge devastated whole neighborhoods suddenly, in a matter of hours. In the year since the storm, some families have been rebuilding their homes and their lives. Others are ready to sell their flood-damaged properties and move on.

Joe Salluzzo lives in a neighborhood called New Dorp Beach, a few blocks from the ocean. He rode out the storm on the second story of his brick bungalow, which he's been repairing himself ever since.

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Environment
10:15 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Predicting Quakes Still Shaky, But Being Prepared Is Crucial

Cars lie smashed by the collapsed Interstate 5 connector a few hours after the Northridge earthquake on Jan. 17, 1994, in California.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 4:59 pm

Morning recess at St. Augustine Catholic School in Culver City, Calif., is like recess in many other schools. Children run and play in the afternoon sun. But nearby, away from the basketball hoops and the games of tag, the staff is preparing.

Next to the playground sits a cargo container full of supplies: water, duct tape, an axe, a shovel and a generator along with gasoline. All of these supplies are here just in case the freeways are cut off or the power goes out — in case there is a major, destructive earthquake.

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The Record
10:12 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Lou Reed, Beloved Contrarian, Dies

Lou Reed onstage in London in 1975 playing a transparent, Plexiglass guitar. Reed died Sunday. He was 71.
Denis O'Regan Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 4:59 pm

One of rock's most beloved and contrarian figures has died. Lou Reed epitomized New York City's artistic underbelly in the 1970s, with his songs about hookers and junkies. He was 71.

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4-H Members Pick 20,000 Pounds
6:21 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Sweet Harvest Will Feed 80,000 People

Credit Wally Hartshorn / Flickr.com

More than 100 4-H members from Caddo County spent their Friday morning picking thousands of pounds of sweet potatoes that will be donated to the hungry just in time for Thanksgiving.

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Making Sure Grades Are Accurate
4:40 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

School Report Card Reprieve

Credit amboo who? / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma State Department of Education says the release of school report cards will be delayed.

The department said Friday that release of the reports that grade schools on an A through F scale will be postponed until after a special meeting of the State Board of Education within the next two weeks. The board had been scheduled to discuss the reports at its meeting on Tuesday.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi says the delay is due to "an abundance of caution" to make sure the grades are accurate.

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World Views
2:59 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

European Union Warns Russia Over Ukraine, Moldova Pressure

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
Credit Presidential Press and Information Office / maiak.info / Flickr Creative Commons

European Union trade ministers are warning Russia to stop pressuring neighborhood countries that seek closer ties with the EU.

Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says since the end of the Cold War, countries that once served as Russia’s “buffer zone” increasingly look to the West.

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Indian Times
2:27 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Cherokee Breaks New Ground As A Woman Mixed Martial Arts Fighter

Credit Provided / Kathina Catron

She’s a surgical tech by day, and a mom to her 7 year old son Coy…but in her other life she is one tough cookie. Kathina Catron is one of the top women fighters in Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, in this region. And she’s a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

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World Views
1:24 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Heavy Smog Hits North China City, Flights Canceled

Credit Nicolò Lazzati / Flickr Creative Commons

Severe smog has reduced the visibility of a northern Chinese city to less than half a football field.

Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says Chinese authorities blame the increase on two things: a lack of wind, and more smoke in the air.

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