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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Oklahoma News
11:18 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Oklahoma Workers Comp Commission Lays Off More Than A Dozen Employees

Back injuries are a common workers' compensation claim.
Credit Darcie / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma's Workers Compensation Commission has laid off 16 employees as the organization transitions from a court-based system to an administrative one.

Commission Executive Director Rick Farmer confirmed the layoffs Wednesday but declined to identify the employees. Wednesday's layoffs bring the total number of staff from 74 to 58.

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OneSix8
10:33 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week With Golf, Woodyfest, A Disney Play And Opera

Two-time Major Champion and internationally recognized golfer Vijay Singh competes at the U.S. Senior Open on the Oak Tree National Golf Course in Edmond.
Credit www.TourProGolfClubs.com / Flickr Creative Commons

In the wake of Independence Day the family fun keeps rolling with golf and some on-stage delights.

Organizers at Oak Tree National Country Club and Golf Course in Edmond expect more than 120,000 spectators throughout the weekend for the U.S. Golf Association’s Senior Open.

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Immigration
9:07 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Former Oklahoma House Speaker, Governor Push Immigration Reform

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating
Jim Greenhill Flickr Creative Commons

Several Oklahoma Republican leaders have joined a nationwide coalition of business and manufacturing groups in urging Congress to pass immigration reform they say is vital to the nation's economy.

Former House Speaker Kris Steele and former Gov. Frank Keating wants the GOP and President Obama to work together to enact federal legislation on immigration.

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Immigration
7:39 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Coburn Blasts HHS For Keeping Bridenstine Out Of Fort Sill Facility

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) during Wednesday's Senate hearing on U.S. border security.
U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs

U.S. Sen Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) told a senior Obama administration official Wednesday the Department of Health and Human Services should've allowed U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla. 1) access to a facility at Fort Sill housing more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern U.S. border.

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Shots - Health News
6:34 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Bingeing On Bad News Can Fuel Daily Stress

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 2:34 pm

If you're feeling stressed these days, the news media may be partly to blame.

At least that's the suggestion of a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Weather and Climate
6:54 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Farmers Hoping For More Rain To Lessen Drought

Brothers and business partners Fred and Wayne Schmedt stand in their family's wheat field near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Some Oklahoma farmers say there's "cautious optimism" that patchy rains this summer will make a dent in the drought afflicting much of the state and help save crops and cattle.

But they concede conditions could change quickly, like they did last year when Oklahoma settled back into the oppressive heat of the summer months. Crops wilted and hay shortages were prevalent across a large swath of the state.

Tim Bartram, with the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association, says if periodic rains suddenly dry up, many farmers will be left with a familiar picture from last season.

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Concern Over Vehicle Emissions
5:27 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

EPA And DOD Come To Agreement To Benefit Rural Fire Departments

Credit JIm Legans, Jr / Flickr.com

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe says a deal has been reached between two federal agencies that will allow local firefighters to continue receiving surplus military equipment.

Oklahoma's senior U.S. senator issued a statement Wednesday praising the agreement reached between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense.

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Wyandotte Nation
4:01 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Is The Interior Department Too Slow?

Credit Brian Turner / Flickr.com

A federal judge has ordered an Oklahoma tribe to show cause why the court shouldn't dismiss the last remaining claim in their lawsuit seeking to build a casino on suburban Wichita land.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday gave the Wyandotte Nation until July 19 to make its pleading.

The Interior Department has notified the court that it rejected the tribe's application to take the land into trust so the tribe can build a casino there.

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Environment
1:08 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Gov. Fallin Criticizes EPA For Cutting Fire Department Vehicle Agreement

Credit Office Of The Governor

Governor Mary Fallin added her voice to the Oklahoma lawmakers who oppose the discontinuation of a program that supplies vehicles to rural fire departments. Fallin wrote a letter Wednesday to an administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency criticizing the discontinuation. 

"The decision to terminate this successful program was clearly made without thought to the adverse effects to local firefighting efforts and the ability to protect the lives and property of our citizens," Fallin said. 

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Here & Now
12:28 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Wichita Falls Fights Devastating Drought

Wichita Falls, Texas, is in its worst drought on record. (Justin Cozart/Flickr)

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 1:48 pm

Wichita Falls, Texas, is in its worst drought on record – worse than the dustbowl days of the ’50s. It started in 2010, and climatologists don’t see it letting up any time soon.

As city manager Darron Leiker explains, the city has taken a series of aggressive measures to cope.

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