CHEROKEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and the Cherokee Nation are asking the U.S. Small Business Administration for a disaster declaration to residents of Cherokee County affected by tornadoes, severe storms and strong winds on Nov. 30.

If approved, the request filed Monday would provide low-interest loans for homeowners, renters, and business owners in the county to repair or replace uninsured property that was damaged. Fallin says damage assessments found more than 90 Cherokee County homes and businesses affected by the storm.

The damage did not meet standards for assistance from FEMA. Cookson Fire Chief Tim Knight said one thing that disqualified them was how many of the residences are secondary - not primary - homes.

Approval of the request would also make residents in the contiguous counties of Adair, Delaware, and Sequoyah eligible for the assistance.

The storms were part of a system that also produced tornadoes in Illinois and Missouri. Fallin previously declared a state of emergency for 12 counties in the area.

FEMA released the following statement: 

 

Vanessa Winans Public Affairs Specialist for FEMA Region 6 said that the Small Business Administration “is one of the primary federal government partners in disaster recovery for individuals and businesses. In fact, the majority of individual assistance after federally declared disasters comes from the SBA, not FEMA”. 

She also said that “additionally, FEMA did not turn down a request for assistance. Along with our local, tribal and state partners, FEMA conducted preliminary damage assessments in the affected areas. Afterwards, the state and tribe chose not to request a disaster declaration for individual assistance from FEMA. Although we cannot speak for another agency, it’s our understanding that the state and the tribal nation wanted to help the largest number of people possible; in this case, that can best be done with the request to the SBA.”

Winans said “while the fire Chief is correct that there were a number of secondary homes in the area, and FEMA can’t help with secondary homes.”

“The following link will help you learn more about the process and the criteria we consider for both Individual and Public Assistance declarations: https://www.fema.gov/disaster-declaration-process “ said Winans.