FEMA Denies Individual Aid

Wednesday, January 16th 2008, 3:24 pm
By: News On 6

Homeowners struggling to recover after last month's ice storm won't be getting any help from FEMA. The federal agency has denied Oklahoma's request for individual assistance for storm victims. The News On 6's Chris Wright reports the ice storm was arguably one of the worst natural disasters in Oklahoma history. FEMA's decision has some people wondering, if the government refuses aid for this, then what has to happen to get some help?

Besides the limbs that still cover Ivy Liggins yard near 56th Street North and Peoria, damage left over from the storm is also still evident inside her home.

Ivy's was one of a handful of homes visited by FEMA when officials toured Tulsa. She lives in her home along with her nine children and ten grandchildren. Ivy says she was optimistic when FEMA first visited her home earlier this month. But, after learning that the individual aid had been denied, that optimism has turned to disappointment.

"I was hoping they would. But since they didn't, we'll just go to the next step," said Ivy Liggins.

Governor Brad Henry is disappointed as well, and says the state will appeal the decision. He points out that this was a storm of historic proportions. More than 640,000 homes and businesses lost power, and the state has received more than 13,000 damage reports.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, he says he "doesn't understand how FEMA could assess the extensive damages from that ice storm, and not conclude the obvious."

Federal assistance or not, hard-hit north Tulsa continues to recover. Many people took advantage of Tuesday's spring-like weather to move limbs, and work on damaged trees. And, despite the lack of assistance from the feds, Ivy says she'll find a way to bounce back.

"I guess if I can struggle through nine kids and ten grandkids, I can struggle through this. I can make a way somehow, someway, somewhere," said Ivy Liggins.

Governor Brad Henry had only requested individual assistance for Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. He says he expected additional counties to be added if the request was approved. This is the second time FEMA has said "no" to Oklahoma in the past year. Assistance was also denied after last January's ice storm.