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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Grand Jury
10:01 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Board Certifies Rogers County Grand Jury Petition

Janice Steidley
Credit Oklahoma District Attorneys Council

The Rogers County Election Board has certified a petition calling for a grand jury to investigate county officials, including District Attorney Janice Steidley.

The board verified 6,994 signatures on the petition turned in last week. Petitioners needed 4,487 verified signatures of registered voters to convene the grand jury.

The Claremore Daily Progress reports the election board spent four days verifying the signatures and eliminated 717 of the 7,711 submitted signatures.

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Parallels
8:54 am
Wed October 9, 2013

A Recurring Tragedy: Death In A Bangladesh Garment Factory

A Bangladeshi firefighter stands inside a damaged garment factory after it caught fire in Gazipur outside the capital, Dhaka, on Wednesday. The fire killed at least 10 people at the factory.
AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 2:06 pm

There's been a deadly fire at a garment factory in Bangladesh — the latest in a series of such tragedies and just six months after the worst disaster in the history of the global garment industry.

At least 10 people were killed at the Aswad garment factory outside the capital, Dhaka, early Wednesday. The immediate cause was not known. This factory, like others where tragedy has struck, produced clothes for a number of Western companies.

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The Two-Way
8:22 am
Wed October 9, 2013

3 Scientists Win Chemistry Nobel For Complex Computer Modeling

A screenshot of the Nobel Prizes webpage showing the 2013 chemistry laureates Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel.
Claudio Bresciani AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 11:34 am

Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their development of powerful computer models used to simulate how chemical reactions work, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday.

The technology they pioneered is now used to develop drugs and to perform other vital tasks in the laboratory.

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The Two-Way
7:01 am
Wed October 9, 2013

All Talk And No Do: Latest On The Shutdown And Debt Ceiling

The skies over the U.S. Capitol on Monday matched the mood as the partial government shutdown drags on and the nation edges closer to a possible default.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 11:53 am

One thing is certain: None of the key players in the federal spending impasse is very happy right now.

President Obama is expected to meet with House Democrats on Wednesday and other caucuses in the coming days, The Associated Press reports, amid hope that a deal can be made soon.

Here's a rundown of Wednesday's Morning Edition coverage on the partial government shutdown, which is bumping up against the debate over raising the debt ceiling.

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No Housing Means A Big Commute
6:18 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Affordable Housing In Rural Oklahoma A Must If Economy To Grow

Credit OakleyOriginals / Flickr.com

Business advocates say the lack of affordable housing in rural Oklahoma is stalling growth in the region.

Officials from the Oklahoma Panhandle and other rural areas appeared at the state Capitol Tuesday to discuss the region's housing needs.

Vicky Ayres McCune of the Panhandle Regional Economic Development Coalition says more than 500 people who work in Guymon commute from Texas or Kansas because of a lack of housing in the area.

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640 Laid Off in Oklahoma City
4:58 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Chesapeake's Bad News Tuesday

Credit Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is laying off 800 workers across the company, including 640 at its home base of Oklahoma City.

The company says the Tuesday layoff announcement is necessary to keep the oil and natural gas specialist competitive.

Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler told The Oklahoman that he's working to keep the company vibrant for "decades to come."

About 1,200 people have left jobs with Chesapeake since the start of 2013.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
4:32 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Tulsa Escaping Worst Of Drought, But ‘Abnormally Dry’ Conditions Taking A Toll

Arkansas River near Tulsa, Okla.
Credit OakleyOriginals / Flickr Creative Commons

Tulsa has been spared the worst effects of Oklahoma’s drought, which has been concentrated in western and southwestern regions of the state.

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The Two-Way
12:43 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Obama: 'Stop The Excuses. Let's Take A Vote'

President Obama speaks about the government shutdown and debt limit on Tuesday at the White House in Washington.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 5:45 pm

In a press conference that lasted more than an hour, President Obama said he was willing to talk about anything, as long as Republicans reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, even if its for a short period of time.

"Let's stop the excuses. Let's take a vote in the House. Let's end this shutdown, right now; let's put people back to work" Obama said.

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U.S. Senate
10:34 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Inhofe Recovering From Heart Surgery

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Credit Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is recovering in a Tulsa hospital after undergoing an emergency quadruple bypass last week.

The Republican senator, who turns 79 next month, says doctors discovered the massive blockage in his arteries during a routine medical screening. He flew home to Tulsa and underwent the emergency heart surgery Friday at St. John Medical Center.

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The Two-Way
10:06 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Senate Democrats Could Set Up Test Vote On Debt Ceiling

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks at a news conference last week on the government shutdown.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 10:14 am

Senate Democrats might introduce a measure to raise the debt ceiling, even as the debate over a spending bill to restart the federal government drags on.

The Associated Press reports:

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