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NEWS: Oklahoma Wildfires

FEMA Aid Denied To Three Oklahoma Counties

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Three counties, Oklahoma, Payne and Canadian were not awarded the individual assistance through FEMA. Creek County, however, was given the federal aid. Three counties, Oklahoma, Payne and Canadian were not awarded the individual assistance through FEMA. Creek County, however, was given the federal aid.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA) was denied for hundreds of people in Central Oklahoma who lost their homes and businesses in the recent wildfires.

Three counties, Oklahoma, Payne and Canadian were not awarded the individual assistance through FEMA. Creek County, however, was given the federal aid.

The decision was shocking for wildfire victims who could not understand why their situation was any different from folks in Creek County, including Heather Starkey of Luther. Her family's home burned in just five minutes. Virtually nothing was salvaged.

Full coverage of Oklahoma wildfires

"Why not include us?" she wondered. "How did you guys come up with the decision? I mean, did we do anything wrong to not deserve federal aid. It is frustrating because I know a lot of families around here lost everything, not just me, and they are frustrated as well."

State officials, including Gov. Mary Fallin, vowed not to give up and fight for an appeal.

"I'm very disappointed that three of our counties out of the four were denied coverage for individual assistance by FEMA," she explained. "There have been so many Oklahomans that have lost everything from their homes."

Emergency Management officials need the public's help to change FEMA's decision, says Michelann Ooten, Deputy Director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

8/24/12 Related Story: Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Calls FEMA Denial Of Wildfire Aid ‘Cruel'

"We need to make sure they know to make a phone call to FEMA to report their damage so that we can get that information and use it to bolster our case to get additional counties declared," Ooten said.

Until a decision on the appeal comes, families like the Starkey's wait as good neighbors provide the help they need.

"I think I cried more about the donations than I did about losing my house. It's overwhelming, it really is," said Starkey.

An appeal must be submitted within 30 days and Emergency Management officials stress the importance of fire victims to report ANY damage they suffered in the fires beginning on July 28.

Victims need to call 1-800-621-FEMA to report their damage.

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