Almost 3,000 apply for federal disaster assistance


Monday, February 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


Almost 3,000 apply for federal disaster assistance




OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ More than 4,000 Oklahomans already have asked the state and federal government for financial help because of last month's ice storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently announced it would provide disaster assistance to Oklahoma residents affected by the winter weather.

Within one day, 2,892 people called to apply for assistance. By the close of business Friday, 4,385 people from the 45 counties declared disaster areas had called, officials said.

Oklahomans living in those counties can apply for assistance by calling state and federal disaster recovery officials.

``Don't hesitate to apply for the assistance you may need,'' said James Roche, federal coordinating officer.

Residents can ask for assistance with home or business repair. Low-interest loans are available for individuals and businesses, and grants for families are being offered.

The disaster assistance covers only basic needs and will not compensate residents for their entire loss, FEMA officials said.

Meanwhile, about 12,200 homes and businesses remained without power Sunday, almost two weeks after the storm. More than 250,000 electrical customers were without power immediately after the Jan. 30 storm.

Most of those still without power are in rural areas, said Michelann Ooten, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management.

Generators were powering many public facilities throughout the state, including water treatment plants and relief shelters.

In Enid, only 53 customers were without power Sunday afternoon when high winds set back gains made by repair crews. At one point more than 15,000 customers lost power.

Some gusts were reported about 50 mph. By Sunday night, power had been restored to most customers.

Cleanup from the storms is still going on and FEMA is warning Oklahomans to be wary of contractors looking to take advantage of them after the ice storm.

``Be especially alert for door-to-door solicitors who ask for large cash deposits or entire payments in advance,'' said Fred Liebe, state coordinating officer for the emergency management department. ``Often the work is never performed or the down payment is never returned.''

Liebe said residents should not sign contracts or make down payments until receiving written estimates from contractors.

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Residents in storm-damaged areas can call 1-800-621-FEMA for assistance. Those with hearing impairments can call 1-800-462-7585.