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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Transportation
3:04 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

UPDATE: Oklahoma Improving The Number of Poor State Bridges

The new I-40 Crosstown under construction near Penn Ave. - December 2011
Credit Oklahoma Department of Transportation

A new study shows Oklahoma has cut its number of structurally deficient state bridges in half in less than a decade.

Department of Transportation Director Mike Patterson presented the figures Monday to the agency's governing commission. Patterson says Federal Highway Commission data shows the number of structurally deficient state bridges dropped from 1,168 in 2005 to 556 currently.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:49 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

A Flood Of Rain And Money Needed To Save Lake Waurika From Its Silt

Credit Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department

Lake Waurika was built in by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1977 to serve, primarily, as a source of drinking water for Lawton and surrounding communities. It has also become an important tourist attraction for the area.

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Moore
12:18 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

International Group Honors Moore Mayor

Mayor Glenn Lewis
Credit City of Moore

A London-based urban affairs think tank has selected Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis as its "Mayor of the Month" for his leadership in the aftermath of the May 20 tornado. 

The City Mayors Foundation announced Monday that Lewis is the mayor of the smallest city ever to win the honor.

Previous winners include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, San Antonio's Julian Castro and Rio de Janeiro's Eduardo Paes.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:47 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Sierra Club Says OG&E Coal Plants Spew Too Much Sulfur Dioxide

Credit Sierra Club of Oklahoma

The Sierra Club on Thursday said two Oklahoma Gas & Electric coal-fired power plants are releasing too much sulfur dioxide, a compound that can cause respiratory disease, which they said endangers residents near Muskogee and Red Rock.

The environmental group commissioned a study that modeled the amount of sulfur dioxide released by the Sooner and Muskogee plants, and says both will violate federal clean air standards — when those standards are implemented.

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Politics and Government
11:09 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Tax Cut And Capitol Repair Bills Take Effect

Credit ensign_beedrill / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 70 bills take effect Monday, including legislation that will ultimately provide for a 2015 Oklahoma income tax reduction and fund repairs to the State Capitol.

ECapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports the bill apportions $60 million to the fund in fiscal year 2014 and FY2015.

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May 2013 Tornadoes
7:14 am
Mon July 1, 2013

FEMA Approves More Aid, Already Tops $25 Million

Gov. Mary Fallin meets with members of the Newcastle Fire Department on Friday June 28, 2013
Credit GovMaryFallin / Twitter

Gov. Mary Fallin says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved public assistance for 16 counties hit by May storms that brought tornadoes and flooding to Oklahoma.

Fallin said FEMA approved the request on Friday that she submitted Wednesday.

The storms caused an estimated $40 million in uninsured infrastructure losses, and debris removal and response costs.

FEMA says disaster assistance for the state now tops $25 million dollars.

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The Two-Way
6:53 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Arizona Wildfire Kills 19 Firefighters, Deadliest In Decades

The Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew is shown in this undated handout photo provided by the city of Prescott, Ariz. The elite team of 19 firemen were killed on Sunday in one of the deadliest U.S. firefighting disasters in decades.
City of Prescott Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 2:17 pm

In what is being called the deadliest U.S. wildfire in at least 30 years, an out-of-control blaze trapped and killed 19 firefighters Sunday in central Arizona. They had been forced to use temporary shelters in an attempt to survive.

All of those killed were part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group based in Prescott, Ariz., that uses rigorous training to prepare for fighting wildfires. They are frequently deployed to the front lines of firefighting efforts against such blazes.

Update at 6:04 p.m. ET: Firefighters Identified

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Parallels
10:34 pm
Sun June 30, 2013

Tales Of Three Protests — In Pictures

demonstration against President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo on Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of Morsi opponents poured out onto the streets across much of Egypt, launching an all-out push to force him from office on the first anniversary of his inauguration." href="/post/tales-three-protests-pictures" class="noexit lightbox">
Egyptians gather in Tahrir Square during a demonstration against President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo on Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of Morsi opponents poured out onto the streets across much of Egypt, launching an all-out push to force him from office on the first anniversary of his inauguration.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Sun June 30, 2013 5:02 pm

Sometimes pictures do a better job of conveying what's going on in the world.

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Environment
7:50 am
Sun June 30, 2013

Oklahoma DEQ Cautions Swimmers On Dangers In Water

Grand Lake - Oklahoma
Credit KellyK / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is issuing cautionary advice to those planning trips to state lakes, rivers and streams during the coming Fourth of July holiday.

The department says bacteria and viruses can be present in untreated bodies of water and can cause problems ranging from swimmers itch and ear infections to some forms of meningitis.

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The Two-Way
6:55 am
Sun June 30, 2013

Western States' Heat Wave Turns Deadly; No Relief In Sight

It was hot Saturday in Sun City, Ariz., and across the Southwest.
Richard A. Brooks AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun June 30, 2013 3:51 pm

(Most recent update: 4:45 p.m. ET.)

The brutal heat wave that has Southwest states in its grip is being blamed for at least one death.

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