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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StoryCorps
2:18 am
Fri August 2, 2013

A Mother And Son Live, And Cope, With Mental Illness

Liza Long's son, 13, struggles with rage and violent outbursts. After the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., Long wrote a blog post advocating for better care for mentally ill youth.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 10:08 am

One day after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last December, Liza Long wrote a blog post urging the country to focus on treatment for the nation's mentally ill youth. In it, she shared the story of her own son, "Michael" (not his real name). "I live with a son who is mentally ill," she wrote for The Blue Review.

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Water Safety
7:13 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Bodies Of Three Fishermen Recovered From Arkansas River

The Arkansas RIver near Tulsa where authorities recovered the bodies of three fisherman Thursday.
Credit TexasExplorer98 / Flickr Creative Commons

Authorities say the body of a third fisherman has been recovered after they all accidentally fell into the Arkansas River early Thursday.

Tulsa Fire Department Capt. Stan May says the third man was pulled out of the river late Thursday afternoon after an all-day recovery effort in and along the river.

Authorities say one of the men went into rushing water near a low-water dam in midtown to go noodling — or attempt to catch a fish with his hands.

May says the first man started to struggle in the water, so two others went in to help him.

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Science and Technology
6:19 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Whistle-Blowers Ignored By Dept. of Fish And Wildlife Director

Spectaclecase Mussel
Credit US Fish And Wildlife / Flickr.com

A report says the Fish and Wildlife Service director failed for more than a year to act against two supervisors who retaliated against whistle-blowers at an Oklahoma field office.

Mary Kendall is deputy inspector general for the Interior Department. Kendall says in a harshly worded letter that lack of action by Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe has damaged the agency's credibility and integrity.

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World Views
4:56 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

How An "Al-Qaida 2" Is Re-Emerging In The Middle East

Free Syrian Army rebels clean their AK47s in Aleppo during the civil war - October 19, 2012.
Credit Scott Bobb / VOA News

Last month, at least 500 prisoners reportedly escaped from the Baghdad Central Prison in Abu Ghraib during an attack al-Qaida’s Iraq arm claimed responsibility for.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of the widely-read blog Syria Comment, says the audacious prison break re-energized al-Qaida in Iraq.

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Native American
4:03 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Quapaw Tribal Chairman Supports Building Mill By Newly Discovered Ancient Native Village

The Caddo, Osage and Quapaw in Arkansas.
Credit Aldo Fonticiella / Flickr.com

The chairman of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma says he supports the building of a $1.1 billion steel mill that is to be built in northeast Arkansas at the site of a recently discovered American Indian village.

John Berrey said at a gathering at Osceola City Hall that the tribe is "pro-jobs" and supports the building of the Big River Steel plant.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/13EAFdk) that Berrey met Wednesday with Mississippi County government officials, the director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and other officials about the mill.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:31 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Oklahoma’s Kiowa Tribe Says Gravel Mining Will Ruin Sacred Mountain

The Kiowa Tribe is worried about the impact of gravel mining on Longhorn Mountain, near the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Reserve in southwestern Oklahoma.
Credit jaxx2kde / Flickr Creative Commons

For almost 150 years, the Kiowa Tribe has used Longhorn Mountain for ceremonies and to gather the cedar used to purify their homes. But tribal leaders say the sacred site is being threatened by gravel mining.

Two of the mountain’s five private landowners have leased water and property rights to Cushing-based Material Service of Oklahoma, Inc. Kristi Eaton reports with the Associated Press reports:

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Weather and Climate
12:31 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Mosquitoes Carrying West Nile Found In Tulsa County

Credit dr_relling / Flickr Creative Commons

The first mosquitoes of 2013 confirmed to be carrying the West Nile virus have been found in Oklahoma. 

The Tulsa County Health Department said Thursday that a sampling of mosquitoes in Tulsa County have tested positive for the potentially deadly virus.

State health officials say there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in humans this year. There were a record 178 cases and 15 deaths in 2012.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:48 am
Thu August 1, 2013

Is Oklahoma’s Severe Weather Policy Grounded In Fact Or Folklore?

Gavin Hawkins walks through the rubble after the May 20, 2013 tornado in Moore.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Since the deadly tornadoes that struck the state this spring, StateImpact has been taking a look at Oklahoma’s severe weather policy, and asking questions like: Why aren’t there more safe rooms in schools?

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Code Switch
2:01 am
Thu August 1, 2013

To '60s Civil Rights Hero, Math Is Kids' Formula For Success

Bob Moses works with Jennifer Augustine, Guitoscard Denize, Darius Collins and other students who are part of this Algebra Project classroom. It's one of several student cohorts across the country where students who've struggled with math get to college-level by the end of high school.
Christopher Connelly NPR

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 5:01 pm

Bob Moses is 78, but he has the same probing eyes you see behind thick black glasses in photos from 50 years ago when he worked as a civil rights activist in Mississippi. The son of a janitor, Moses was born and raised in Harlem. He's a Harvard-trained philosopher and a veteran teacher.

He started a math training program — the Algebra Project — with a MacArthur "Genius Grant" 30 years ago. The goal is simple: Take students who score the worst on state math tests, double up on the subject for four years and get them ready to do college-level math by the end of high school.

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Politics and Government
12:56 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Governor: Insure Oklahoma Not In Special Session

Gov. Mary Fallin says Insure Oklahoma will not be in the special session, if one is called.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin says she won't include the fate of Insure Oklahoma as a topic for a special legislative session if one is called.  

The Tulsa World reports that a spokesman for Fallin told the paper Tuesday in an email that the health insurance program wouldn't be considered.

Oklahoma has submitted a plan to the federal government to end the program.

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