KEATING declares weather emergency


Thursday, May 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Thunderstorms that knocked out power to thousands of Oklahomans prompted Gov. Frank Keating Wednesday to declare a weather emergency.

A declaration signed by Keating authorizes state agencies to help local authorities assess and repair damage caused by a series of severe storms that have swept across the state since Sunday.

``We're still trying to gather information and data as to the extent of damage,'' said Ron Hill, deputy director of the Department of Civil Emergency Management.

Hill said his agency's efforts have been hampered by the frequency of the storms. The latest storm struck late Tuesday and early Wednesday, dropping several inches of rain in areas.

``This was a unique storm. And it was so widespread,'' Hill said.

Sunday's storm snapped power poles and damaged buildings from Oklahoma's border with Kansas to the Red River. Hill said his agency has received damage reports stretching from southwest to southeast Oklahoma.

As many as 54,000 homes were still without power late Tuesday, about half of those in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

Hill said most of the damage appears to have been caused by high winds although officials are monitoring minor flooding in eastern Oklahoma.

Keating's declaration permits the state to use the resources of the Army National Guard, the Department of Transportation and other state agencies to help city and county governments assess and repair damage.