Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Situation Update 35
January 23, 2007 – 5:30 p.m.
STATE/FEDERAL ICE STORM RESPONSE CONTINUES
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.
- 3,919 people have been treated at Oklahoma hospitals for various injuries related to winter storm conditions, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
State and Federal Assistance
- Oklahoma awaits word on Gov. Brad Henry's request to Pres. George W. Bush for additional federal assistance for Oklahoma counties hard hit by the Jan. 12 ice storm. Gov. Henry's Jan. 22nd 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.
- All 77 Oklahoma counties remain under a federal emergency declaration. On Jan. 14, Pres. Bush approved the emergency declaration which delivered federal assets necessary to respond to the needs of the state and communities affected by the ice storm. The emergency declaration 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 and FEMA continue to coordinate the delivery of bottled water to McAlester, Muskogee and Jay. Since last Wednesday, more than 900,000 bottles of drinking water have been delivered 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.
- 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.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports statewide, about 9,791 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 power returned to all customers who can safely receive electricity.
- OG&E reports 92 customers are without power in Muskogee.
- Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports 9,699 electric cooperative customers are without power. OAEC reports more than 4,250 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.
Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative (Stigler) - 86
East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (Okmulgee) - 1,200
Kiamichi Electric Cooperative (Wilburton) - 1,195
Lake Region Electric Cooperative (Hulbert) - 883
Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (Vinita) - 6,310
People's Electric Cooperative (Ada) - 25
Power outage information for the rural electric cooperatives is available at www.oaec.coop
Shelters and Mass Care
American Red Cross has served more than 50,000 meals due to the ice storm.
American Red Cross continues to operate or support shelters in the following locations:
Checotah – Multi-Purpose Building
Fort Gibson – Church of Christ
Grove – Grove Civic Center
Muskogee – Muskogee Recreation Center
Tahlequah – First United Methodist Church Activities Building
Wyandotte – Wyandotte/Ashton Community Service Center
Since Jan. 14, The Salvation Army has served more than 12,600 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 Salvation Army will continue to work with other Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) agencies to help provide for those in need that continue to suffer without power.
Feed the Children has now delivered a total of six tractor trailer loads of emergency supplies, including food, flashlights and batteries, blankets for children, and drinking water to Jay, Eufaula, Warner and Tahlequah. Tomorrow another truckload of emergency supplies is scheduled for delivery in Oaks.
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. Additional kitchens are preparing meals in Grove and 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 communities from McAlester to Grove. Oklahoma Mennonites and Methodists will be joining the Baptists as they assist the elderly and other individuals who are unable to clear the debris themselves.
Church World Services donated 1,000 blankets for use at shelters.
Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps provided medical assistance at shelters and back-up personnel at hospitals and medical facilities.
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.
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.
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.