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Situation Update

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 24, 2007 – 9:45 a.m. Update #5

Oklahomans continue to recover from the deadly flooding, tornadoes and other severe weather delivered Saturday night and Sunday after the remnants of Tropical Depression Erin moved through the state. Flood waters have receded in many areas. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.

Governor Requests Federal Assistance

Oklahoma awaits word on Gov. Brad Henry’s request that Pres. Bush declare Blaine, Caddo and Kingfisher counties disaster areas to receive individual assistance. If the request is approved, those who suffered damage will be eligible for assistance for housing repairs or temporary housing, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property, disaster unemployment assistance, and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs. More counties can be added to the request as damage assessments are completed.

The following 24 Oklahoma counties remain under a State of Emergency, as declared by the Governor: Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Grady, Jefferson, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Stephens, and Washita.

Injuries and Fatalities

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office has attributed Wednesday’s death of a Putnam City West High School cross country athlete to the disaster. This brings the total number of disaster-related fatalities to seven. Information regarding each fatality is listed below.

  • A 17-year-old Oklahoma City youth was recovered from Lake Overholser in Oklahoma City on Thursday.
  • A man was found in his vehicle near Omega in Kingfisher County on Sunday.
  • A woman was found in her storm cellar in Fort Cobb on Sunday.
  • Three women were found in their vehicle near Carnegie on Sunday.
  • A woman was found in her vehicle in Seminole on Sunday.
  • The cause of death on all seven victims is drowning.
  • Two Watonga residents were injured after their home was destroyed by straight line winds or a possible tornado. The two were treated for reportedly non-life threatening injuries at the hospital in Watonga.

State Assistance

OEM continues to operate the Oklahoma Damage Assessment Hotline. Anyone who sustained damage to their property due to last weekend’s severe weather is urged to report those damages by calling (877) 216-1618. The toll-free line is operated from 8 a.m.to 7 p.m. daily. Based on the calls, damage assessment teams will be sent to the affected areas and additional Oklahoma counties may be requested for disaster assistance.

Additionally, anyone with damage should also call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at (800) 621-FEMA. Callers will be told the state has not been declared for disaster assistance however, FEMA will take their application and contact them at a later date if their county is declared.

Teams will begin surveying damage to infrastructure on Tuesday, Aug. 28. Joint teams of FEMA, OEM and local emergency management officials will begin preliminary damage assessments (PDAs) concentrating on the 24 counties under a State of Emergency along with Garvin County where officials recently reported damage. The teams will examine damage to roads, bridges and public facilities. They will also consider the costs associated with responding to the disaster.

PDA teams will also be in the hardest hit counties surveying damage to homes and businesses and identifying the need for individual assistance. In addition to OEM, FEMA and local emergency management representatives, these teams will also include SBA officials.

Power Outages

Local emergency managers report power was restored in Geary Tuesday afternoon and in Watonga Wednesday afternoon.

The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) reports all electric cooperative consumers who could safely receive electric service had power restored as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. This is according to reports OAEC received from the following cooperatives: Caddo Electric Cooperative, Binger; Cimarron Electric Cooperative, Kingfisher; Cotton Electric Cooperative, Walters; Kiwash Electric Cooperative, Cordell; Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Norman; and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, Anadarko. A handful of non-residential or small commercial customers are still without electric service, primarily due to the fact that such services are inaccessible due to bridges or roadways being washed out. Collectively, nearly $1 million in damages was incurred by electric cooperative systems when Tropical Storm Erin re-formed over western and central Oklahoma this past weekend.

Drinking Water

Drinking water remains an issue in Geary and Greenfield and some areas of Caddo County. Water is being provided by Oklahoma National Guard water trailers. Pallets of bottled water have also been supplied by the Federal Surplus Property Distribution Office out of Fort Worth, Texas. Today Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials will deliver pallets of the bottled water to Anadarko for use by Caddo County residents.

Shelters and Mass Feeding

The American Red Cross continues to operate the following shelters to assist those displaced by the storms:

  • El Reno – Northwest Community Center, 520 N. Grand Ave.
  • Kingfisher – Kingfisher County Fairgrounds, 300 S. 13th Street
  • Watonga – First Baptist Church, 301 N. Noble. A feeding station is also located at Saint Rose Catholic Church, 900 Clarence Nash.

Additionally, the American Red Cross is supporting a shelter in Fort Cobb at the Caddo-Kiowa Technology Center on Career Tech Road.

For more information regarding shelters and for help in locating those displaced by the storms, call the American Red Cross toll-free hotline, 1-866-GET-INFO.

The Salvation Army is assisting with feeding those in shelters and first responders.

Members of the Oklahoma Southern Baptist Men Mud-Out Teams are assisting Kingfisher residents with flooding cleanup.

Road Conditions

ODOT reports the following roads are closed:

Metro Area Closings

  • SH-152, between Manning & Evans Rd. (which is between Union City & Mustang) due to a collapsed drainage structure (will be closed several days). Open to local traffic only.
  • Eastbound through traffic is being diverted at US-81 in Union City; westbound traffic is being diverted at SH-92 in Mustang.
  • SH-4 north of Yukon between Wilshire and SH-66 will be closed for an extended period.

Statewide Highway Closings

  • Blaine County – SH-33 east of Watonga (6.5 miles west of the Kingfisher County line) Traffic is being detoured to SH-8, SH-51 and US-81.
  • Grady County – US-81 south of Minco at Buggy Creek Bridge (1.5 miles south of SH-37) Closure expected to continue through mid-September. Traffic is being detoured to US-62, SH-92 and SH-37.

Weather

A cold front will move into Oklahoma today with showers and thunderstorms possible along this boundary today and tomorrow. Warmer temperatures are expected Sunday through Tuesday. A stronger cold front is expected late Wednesday, when a chance for additional showers and thunderstorms will exist.

Local Reports

Blaine County Emergency Management reports recovery efforts continue in Geary, Watonga and rural areas. A Disaster Help Center will be open at Watonga City Hall Auditorium on Saturday and Monday, from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. Blaine County residents impacted by the storm can go there to learn about aid programs available to assist them.

Kingfisher City/County Emergency Management reports recovery continues in the City of Kingfisher and other areas. Local officials report they are no longer in need of clothing donations. Instead, they urge Oklahomans to donate monetarily to the disaster relief organization of their choice.

Be Ready for the Next Storm with a NOAA Weather Radio

This past weekend's weather highlights again the need for people to stay informed about their local weather. Erin brought deadly flooding, damaging winds and even tornadoes to the state, and much of this dangerous weather happened after most people had gone to bed. The National Weather Service reminds Oklahomans that a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm can save your life during hazardous weather.

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