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Situation Update

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Situation Update 33

January 22, 2007 -- 7 p.m.


The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains activated due to winter weather conditions that continue to impact areas of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas and has received the following reports.

Injuries and Fatalities

  • Since the winter weather system first impacted the state Jan. 12, there have been 32 deaths attributed to the storm -- 19 due to motor vehicle accidents, 8 died of hypothermia, 2 died of smoke inhalation and 3 died due to falls -- according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) and Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
  • 3,656 people have been treated at Oklahoma hospitals for various injuries related to current weather conditions, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

State and Federal Assistance

  • Gov. Brad Henry today requested that Pres. George W. Bush approve additional federal assistance for Oklahoma counties hardest hit by the Jan. 12 ice storm. Gov. Henry's request for a Major Disaster Declaration would allow communities and individuals to seek federal reimbursement for uninsured damages as they recover from the storm. For individuals and business owners, assistance could include grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses. The request seeks assistance for an initial 23 counties however, additional counties will be added as more damage reports are complete. The counties are Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Cotton, Craig, Delaware, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Latimer, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Pittsburg, Seminole, Sequoyah and Wagoner. All individuals and business owners should report uninsured expenses related to the ice storm to their local city or county emergency management office.
  • On Jan. 14, Pres. Bush approved an emergency declaration for all 77 Oklahoma counties. The emergency declaration covers federal assistance for federal assets necessary to continue to respond to the needs of the state and communities affected by the ice storm. It also covers 75 percent reimbursement for emergency protective measures performed by local and state personnel. Gov. Henry requested federal aid after it became clear the state would need federal support to deliver assistance to storm victims across Oklahoma.
  • OEM continues to coordinate the delivery of disaster relief efforts to alleviate the hardship and suffering caused by the ice storm. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials are working with the state to identify, mobilize, and provide necessary equipment and resources.
  • Since Wednesday, OEM and FEMA have worked to deliver more than 900,000 bottles of drinking water to communities impacted by the storm.
  • Generators delivered by OEM, Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), Oklahoma National Guard, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remain in areas where intermittent power outages continue. Please note: These generators are not available to individuals.
  • Today joint preliminary damage assessment teams continued to survey damage in the affected areas. The teams are documenting damage to public facilities, roads and bridges as well as damage to the electric cooperative system and the costs associated with debris removal. Teams are also documenting uninsured damages to homes and businesses. Initial damage assessments are being completed in the four hardest hit counties.
  • In addition to OEM, the Oklahoma Military Department, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, ODOT, OSDH, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, OHP, Oklahoma Corporation Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, OG&E, American Red Cross and The Salvation Army are represented in the State EOC.

Power Outages

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports statewide, about 12,574 customers are without power. In some locations, meters are pulled away from homes and other structures and will require property owners to hire electricians before power can be restored safely. At the height of the electric outages, 122,338 customers were without power on Sunday, Jan. 14.

  • PSO reports 172 customers without power. In McAlester, 98 are without power.
  • OG&E reports 480 customers are without power. In Muskogee 322 are without power.
  • Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports 11,922 electric cooperative customers are without power. OAEC reports more than 3,700 utility poles are down across the cooperative service area. Below is a list of electric cooperatives, the location of their office and the number of power outages.

Canadian Valley (Seminole) - 6
Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative (Stigler) - 225
East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (Okmulgee) - 1,200
Kiamichi Electric Cooperative (Wilburton) - 1,585
Lake Region Electric Cooperative (Hulbert) - 1,030
Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (Vinita) - 7,703
People's Electric Cooperative (Ada) - 172
Southeastern Electric Cooperative (Durant) - 1

Shelters and Mass Care

American Red Cross is operating or supporting shelters in the following locations:

Checotah – Multi-Purpose Building
Chouteau – First Baptist Church
Fort Gibson – Church of Christ
Grove – Grove Civic Center
Kansas – NE Vo-tech School
Langley – First Christian Church
Locust Grove – Locust Senior Nursing Home
Muskogee – Muskogee Recreation Center, Muskogee VA Hospital
Pryor – Grand Memorial Auditorium
Salina – Lakeview Baptist Church
Tahlequah – First United Methodist Church Activities Building
Wyandotte – Wyandotte/Ashton Community Service Center

Since Jan. 14, The Salvation Army has served more than 12,000 meals to residents of northeast Oklahoma. Currently, The Salvation Army continues to feed one shelter that is supported by the American Red Cross in Kansas (OK). This operation will continue through Wednesday evening, Jan. 24. In addition, the communities of West Siloam Springs, Colcord and other nearby locations are receiving meals for their residents through this location via either pick-up by county officials or residents. The Wyandotte canteen continues to feed residents in the Wyandotte area. The McAlester Corps continues to serve meals to those coming in for assistance. Both McAlester and Muskogee Corps continue to provide comfort kits, food baskets, and blankets as needed and emergency prescription assistance.

Feed the Children delivered three tractor trailer loads of emergency supplies, including food, flashlights and batteries, blankets for children, and drinking water to Jay and communities in McIntosh County.

The Creek Nation delivered emergency supplies to the McIntosh County communities of Eufaula, Texanna, Leisure Land, Porum Landing, Hitchita, Shady Grove, Stidham, and Onapa.

The United Methodists continue to assist with health and welfare checks in many communities.

The Southern Baptist Men's Disaster Response continues to prepare meals for many of the shelters and the response teams in the area. Their large-capacity feeding unit, which feeds up to 15,000 meals, is in McAlester. A second feeding is staged in Muskogee.

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, located in Oklahoma City, and the Tulsa Food Bank continue to provide food and water for shelter preparation.

Southern Baptist Men's "Chain Saw Gangs" are clearing debris for homeowners in Delaware, McIntosh and other counties. The Baptists are assisting elderly and individuals who are unable to clear the debris themselves.

Food Safety

Power outages present problems with food safety as well as with heating. If people at home or those in food establishments have had a loss of power for more than four hours, OSDH recommends the following precautions be taken with refrigerated food products:

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
Discard any potentially hazardous foods such as meats, eggs, dairy products and leftovers that may have exceeded 41 degrees. When in doubt, throw it out.

Frozen foods in a freezer can normally be kept up to 48 hours without power. Again, the 41 degree rule applies. A frozen product that has thawed should not be refrozen - it should be used immediately or disposed of. Thawed foods that have not reached 41 degrees can be cooked and consumed.

Carbon Monoxide Danger

OSDH continues to report more than 100 cases of possible carbon monoxide poisoning statewide. Health officials warn Oklahomans who may seek alternative power or fuel sources such as generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices that these should never be used inside a home, garage,or camper -- or even outside near an open window. The use of these alternative fuel or electricity sources can cause carbon monoxide to build up and poison people and animals inside. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas found in combustion fumes and can cause sudden illness and death. The National Weather Service is broadcasting information regarding this carbon monoxide danger on NOAA weather radios.

Choose Contractors Carefully

As Oklahomans begin to recover from the ice storm, many will seek contractors to repair or rebuild their homes. Most contractors are reputable individuals. Some, however, may try to take advantage of home and business owners. Oklahomans are urged to follow these easy steps to help make sure they aren't victimized by unscrupulous contractors.

Look first to licensed local contractors who performed well in the past. If they cannot help you, ask them to recommend reputable contractors.

Some government building departments and trade associations keep lists of licensed contractors who work in the community. Also, the Better Business Bureau keeps records of complaints against contractors.

Be especially alert to door-to-door solicitors who hand out homemade flyers and ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.

Price Gouging

Anyone who suspects price gouging is urged to contact the Oklahoma Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit at 405-521-2029. The state's price gouging statute is in effect which prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a state of emergency has been declared.

Dial 2-1-1

The State EOC continues to utilize the 2-1-1 system as a resource for non-emergency disaster information services. 2-1-1 is the number to call for access to non-emergency health, human service, and disaster related information. Just dial "2-1-1" from any phone in 36 Oklahoma Counties (see the lists below where 2-1-1 is available). Phones are answered 24/7/365. If you are calling from a rotary dial telephone or large phone system, such as PBX, please access 2-1-1 services through the 10-digit telephone numbers listed below. In counties where 2-1-1 is not available, residents should contact local emergency management officials or the American Red Cross for assistance.

Tulsa 2-1-1 Helpline (918-836-4357)
Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner

HeartLine 2-1-1, Central Oklahoma (405-286-4057)
Canadian, Cleveland, Grady, Kingfisher, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Oklahoma, Pottawatomie

2-1-1 of Southeastern Oklahoma (580-332-0558)
Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Choctaw, Coal, Garvin, Haskell, Hughes, Jefferson, Johnston, Latimer, LeFlore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, Murray, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Seminole, Stephens

For assistance in Comanche County, please call Helpline (580-355-7575) - note that 2-1-1 is not active in Comanche County at this time.


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