(TNS) - Muskogee County, Okla., commissioners on Monday cleared the way for reimbursement of costs for flood- and tornado-related damage that occurred May 16-18.
The emergency proclamation and disaster declaration marks the second time this year commissioners have taken such steps. Severe storms that occurred April 28 through May 2 caused widespread flooding and damage to public infrastructure and private property.
District 2 Commissioner Ken Doke said Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives have surveyed damage from both weather events. Damage from those weather events, he said, will be tallied separately to determine whether the threshold limits are met for federal assistance.
"FEMA has been here, they have done some assessments, and believe we will meet the threshold for Muskogee County," Doke said. "Rather than extending the dates for the first round of storms in April, which we would prefer, it looks likely that we will have to qualify separately for two events."
Doke said the state must request a major disaster declaration from the federal government for the mid-May weather events, a step Gov. Mary Fallin has taken for the late April storms. Fallin's request sought federal funds to assist municipal, county and rural electric cooperatives in 18 counties — Cherokee, Haskell, Muskogee and Sequoyah counties included — with infrastructure repairs, debris removal and other storm-response costs.
Fallin also requested disaster assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration for Cherokee and Haskell counties, which subsequently was granted. Eligibility is authorized for homeowners and business owners who sustained an economic injury due to storms.
Pursuant to SBA rules, eligibility is extended to those who are similarly situated in contiguous counties. That extends eligibility for the April 28 through May 2 storms to qualified home and business owners in McIntosh, Muskogee, Pittsburg, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties.
SBA assistance includes low-interest disaster loans for homeowners and business owners to replace storm-damaged property not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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