Office of Governor Brad Henry
State of Oklahoma
State Capitol – Oklahoma City OK 73105
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- 12/14/2007
Gov. Henry Says State Will Soon Request Major Disaster Declaration
Extent of Damages Has Slowed Assessment Surveys
Oklahoma City -- Gov. Brad Henry said he anticipates that the state will have enough data Saturday, Dec. 15, to ask President Bush for a major disaster declaration encompassing a number of Oklahoma counties devastated by last weekend’s ice storm.
The Governor and Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management officials said the magnitude of damages statewide has slowed the work of assessment teams conducting surveys of impacted areas. Assessment surveys have also been hampered by extremely foggy conditions and the prospect of an impending snowstorm over this weekend.
“If the weather cooperates, I am optimistic that we will be in a position to make the request for a major disaster declaration Saturday,” Gov. Henry said. “This ice storm that impacted hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans was nothing short of catastrophic. I am confident that President Bush will act swiftly and decisively when we submit the request for federal assistance.”
If approved, the major disaster declaration would allow cities, towns and counties to receive public assistance for expenses related to response and recovery efforts.
Gov. Henry noted that the request for federal assistance is the first of several that will be made in the days and weeks to come as emergency management officials continue to assess damages. Regardless of what counties will be listed in the initial request for a major disaster declaration, more counties will be added as further information becomes available.
In addition, the Governor said state emergency management officials are continuing surveys to build the state’s anticipated request to President Bush for Individual Assistance. If granted, Individual Assistance could include grants for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Residents and business owners who have uninsured ice-storm damages are urged to call the toll-free Oklahoma Damage Assessment Hotline (866) 560-7584 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Operators will be on-hand to take the calls daily. Because of the heavy volume of calls, people are encouraged to keep trying if they receive a busy signal.