Oklahoma Waits For Disaster Funds While FEMA Focuses On Hurricane Harvey

Thursday, September 7th 2017, 5:38 pm

With the enormous financial impact of Hurricane Harvey, several Green Country counties will have to wait longer than expected to receive FEMA money for disasters earlier this year.

Muskogee County hasn't been reimbursed for a road that was damaged in flooding.

The county expects almost $1 milion from FEMA just from damage in May and April.

Severe storms this spring left feet of water in some parts of Green Country, damaging roads in Haskell County and washing out a village near the Illinois River not far from Tahlequah.

8/24/2017 Related Story: Tulsa SBA Outreach Center Opens To Help With Low-Interest Loans After Tornado

State Highway 80 near Lake Fort Gibson looked more like its own lake than a road. 

"Anytime we have flooding it's gonna wash the top of the roads off," said Jeff Smith, Muskogee County emergency manager.

Muskogee County dealt with its fair share of damaged roads, too. 

Smith said most of the work to repair the roads is already done. 

"It costs a lot, a lot of money, a lot of money," he said.

The estimated $1 million from FEMA doesn't even include the damage costs from earlier storms.

They're still waiting on money from 2015, Smith said.

Almost two years ago, parts of Muskogee County were drenched.

But it's nothing compared to what south Texas is dealing with. 

"I'm glad the government is actually moving some funds over there to help those folks right now," Smith said.

The state said county emergency managers the money should be replenished in the near future. 

Smith said his office doesn't mind the wait. 

"They really need it worse than we do right now," he said.

U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin issued a statement, saying that during "Texas’ time of great need, we must extend the Oklahoma Standard to ensure that in the wake of one of the biggest storms to ever hit our country, lifesaving missions can continue uninterrupted."

The State Emergency Management Office said this won't impact home and business owners already approved for storm recovery help.


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