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GOVERNOR HENRY DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY TO STRENGTHEN RELIEF EFFORTS FOR HURRICANE VICTIMS

09-03-2005

Oklahoma City -- Gov. Brad Henry has declared a State of Emergency in response to the impact that Hurricane Katrina?s relief efforts is having on Oklahoma. The declaration is necessary for Oklahoma to continue providing mutual aid and state assets to those affected by the hurricane.

The declaration also relaxes state purchasing laws, a move needed for the purchase of supplies to support the estimated 2,500 Oklahoma National Guard members and other state groups deployed to the hurricane-ravaged areas. To date, more than 3,500 Oklahomans have been involved responding to the Gulfport region.

Along with the Emergency Declaration, the Governor has also activated the State Emergency Operations Plan. Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) are staffing the State Emergency Operations Center and continue to respond to requests for assistance in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. OEM officials are also working with Oklahoma?s various disaster-relief organizations that are grappling with the potential for a large influx of evacuees from the hard-hit Gulf states. An American Red Cross shelter in Tulsa, which had been set up specifically for hurricane victims, provided assistance yesterday for about 250 people.

State officials in Arkansas and Texas issued similar emergency declarations yesterday.

As the tragic events in Louisiana and Mississippi unfold, Gov. Henry is challenging every Oklahoman to contribute to the hurricane relief effort in some way.

?Oklahomans always step up to the plate when people are in need, and if there has ever been a time to step up to the plate, it is now,? the Governor said.

?We are witnessing a heart-wrenching human tragedy. Whether you can afford to donate $100 or $1, or blood, I urge you to do so. It is virtually impossible to follow the stories of what is happening in the impacted areas without being deeply moved and frustrated. But there is something we can do, and emergency relief workers stress over and over that what is most needed are monetary contributions.

?I am particularly impressed by the many radio and television stations in Oklahoma that are helping raise funds and resources for the people of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. By joining forces and making a concerted effort to help, all of Oklahoma can make a real difference for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, so many of whom have lost everything.?

A list of organizations participating in disaster relief is available on-line at www.okvoad.org. To donate blood, call 1-877-OBI-GIVE or visit www.obi.org.

If you are an evacuee from the hurricane-impacted areas, you can apply for federal disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.fema.gov or the toll-free registration line, 1-800-621 FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.