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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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:01 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Twister Truths: Can Nothing Survive An EF5 Tornado?

The skeleton of a home on Lakeview Drive in Moore, which was ravaged by the May 20, 2013 tornado.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

This is part two in StateImpact Oklahoma's "Twister Truths" series where we use data to kick the tires on the conventional wisdom underlying severe weather policy in Oklahoma. Read part one here

Despite the risk that comes with living in Tornado Alley, many Oklahomans are reluctant to build tornado shelters. And state and local building codes don’t factor for twisters.

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The Two-Way
10:33 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Are We Martians? Scientist Says We Just Might Be

Mars: Our "home" planet?
NASA Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 10:15 am

As Adam Frank has said over on the 13.7 blog, "Earth and Mars have been swapping spit (astrobiologically speaking) for eons ... [and] it is entirely possible we were Earth's first alien invasion."

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Prisons
9:56 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Why North Carolina Is Putting Fewer People Behind Bars As Oklahoma's Prison Population Climbs

Oklahoma's inmate population continues to climb despite efforts to reduce the number of resdients behind bars.
Oklahoma Watch

Several years ago, legislators in both Oklahoma and North Carolina began taking steps to address rising incarceration rates.

The number of incarcerated offenders in Oklahoma had increased by a few thousand inmates in the past decade, giving the state one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the nation.

The prison population was growing at a similar pace in North Carolina, and officials were expecting an additional 10 percent increase by 2020.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:43 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Can Coal Plants Dump Unlimited Amounts Of Toxic Metals Into OK’s Waterways?

Grand Riverkeeper Earl Hatley stands at the edge of the GRDA power plant's property near Chouteau, Okla
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

There’s a report out from a group of environmental organizations including Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club that says there are “essentially no limits” on the amounts toxic metals coal-fired power plants can dump into Oklahoma’s waterways.

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OneSix8
7:30 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Entertaining the Hours of Your Week With Holiday Happenings

Jennifer Lashbrook's "DIY Mona Lisa" paint swatch piece. Lashbrook is this year's Arts Festival Oklahoma featured artist.
Credit jenniferlashbrook.com

Well, we’ve made it to Labor Day Weekend 2013. Take a load off. This week’s OneSix8 features several festival opportunities where you can reward yourself for another year of hard work. 

The Dusk ‘Til Dawn Blues Festival returns to Rentiesville for the 23rd time this weekend. The annual event boasts 33 bands performing from August 30 through September 1. Legends like Tee Dee Young and Roger Hurrican Wilson join local celebrities such as Watermelon Slim and Miss Blues.

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6:55 am
Thu August 29, 2013

What Do Hurricane Katrina and the Moore Tornado Have in Common?

Lead in text: 
It's been eight years since Hurricane Katrina, and about three months since the EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Okla. Mike Smith points out a commonality between the two storms and human reaction.
Yes, they were both "cyclones" (low pressure systems). Yes, they were both windstorms. But, there is something they have in common that might, if not managed properly, cause mass casualties in the future: Terrible traffic jams when a second storm days later.
It's All Politics
6:36 am
Thu August 29, 2013

How California Is Turning The Rest Of The West Blue

Newcomers from California are helping to shake up the politics in the Mountain West.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 12:15 pm

Colorado's politics have become positively Californian lately. There are new restrictions on guns. Pot is legal. The legislative agenda featured an expansion of alternative-energy use requirements for rural consumers. Gay couples can now enter into civil unions.

There's a reason for all this.

Lots of Californians have moved to Denver and its environs, bringing a progressive strain of politics with them and angering more conservative parts of the state — so much so that 10 northeastern counties are planning symbolic but serious votes on secession this fall.

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Missing Valedictorian
6:19 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Parents Of Missing Student Return From Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador
Credit Rinaldo W. / Flickr.com

An Oklahoma City couple has returned from Ecuador without their son, a class valedictorian possibly kidnapped while the family was in South America for a vacation.

The Oklahoma reported Wednesday that Chris and Randa Reiger recently returned to the state while the search for their son August goes on. Another son is back at school.

Ecuadoran authorities believe August Reiger was kidnapped because they have no other reasonable explanation for his disappearance. They say he would have been found by now if he had been lost or had fallen off a trail.

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Spartan College of Aeronautics
4:35 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Spartan Will Train Air Force So They Can Train Afghans

Cockpit
Credit flightlog / Flickr.com

A Tulsa air school has been awarded a $12 million Air Force contract to provide ground and flight training for operations in Afghanistan.

The Tulsa World reports that Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is getting the five-year contract.

Officials at the vocational training school say the contract will cover education on Cessna T182 and 208 aircraft. The school will also supply maintenance training on Beech King Air 350 aircrafts.

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State Capitol
12:38 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Fallin Names Michael McNutt As Press Secretary

Press Secretary Michael McNutt.
Credit Provided / Oklahoma Governor's Office

Gov. Mary Fallin has named longtime state Capitol reporter Michael McNutt as her press secretary.

McNutt has worked almost 30 years for The Oklahoman, including eight years at the paper's Capitol Bureau. During that time he covered the office of governor, the House of Representatives, various state agencies and a number of political campaigns.

Before moving to the Capitol, McNutt served as The Oklahoman's assistant news editor and assistant city editor. He has also worked in the newspaper's Enid bureau and for newspapers in Enid and Rolla, Mo.

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