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Gov. Henry applauds White House for quick approval of Ottawa County tornado aid
5/14/2008

The White House approved Oklahoma’s request for federal disaster assistance in the Ottawa County tornado, according to Gov. Brad Henry.

“We got the word from the White House late this afternoon,” said the governor. “We appreciate the quick response from Pres. Bush and his team. The people of Picher and the other affected communities need all the help they can get, and this is a critical first step.

“We will continue to work with our federal partners to obtain all possible assistance, including expedited aid in the Picher buyout process.”

An EF-4 tornado struck several Ottawa County communities Saturday evening, destroying more than 100 homes and causing several fatalities in the town of Picher alone.

After conducting damage assessments, Gov. Henry Tuesday requested a federal disaster declaration for Ottawa County to help provide assistance to individuals and businesses in the tornado-damaged area. The state received approval less than 24 hours later.

The declaration includes federal assistance for housing repairs or temporary housing, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property, disaster unemployment assistance, and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs.

Gov. Henry noted that other communities around the state also suffered damages from the May 10 tornadoes. The governor said damage assessments are continuing, and the state will request that additional counties be added to its disaster declaration as those efforts are completed. Surveys are also being conducted for a disaster declaration on public assistance that would aid in the repair of public infrastructures.

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