Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 6, 2012

Oklahoma Gov. Fallin appeals FEMA denial, seeks aid for Stillwater area wildfire victims

OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin Thursday filed a formal appeal on behalf of Oklahoma wildfire victims in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties, asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reverse its recent decision denying individual assistance to those hard hit by last month’s devastating fires.

 “The victims of the recent wildfires need help getting back on their feet and we are asking FEMA to revisit our assistance request,” Fallin said. “Though the federal government granted assistance for wildfire victims in Creek County, they denied the request for Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties. Oklahomans in these counties suffered damage from wildfires during the same time period and as a result of the same extreme weather and drought conditions. Our appeal makes a strong case for residents in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties and we hope the federal government will amend its initial declaration, which appears lopsided and unfair.”

The July 28-Aug. 14 wildfires destroyed 270 homes in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties and damaged nearly 30 others. An estimated 85 percent of the homes damaged or destroyed were not insured, the governor said. One person died in the fire in Cleveland County.

 On Aug.13, Fallin requested individual assistance for four of the state’s hardest hit areas, Cleveland, Creek, Oklahoma and Payne counties. While a fire in Creek County was granted a declaration on Aug. 22, FEMA denied assistance for victims in the other three counties, claiming that state, local and volunteer organizations could address the damages in those areas.

 In its appeal, the state cites the overall weather conditions that led to numerous fires within the same time period. Additional damage numbers, high uninsured rates and continued housing challenges in the area were also listed.

An individual assistance declaration would make Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne County home and business owners eligible for assistance with housing repairs or temporary housing and disaster unemployment assistance. It would also provide for U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest loans for individuals and businesses and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs.

 

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