Governor Fallin And ODOT Outline Flood Recovery Plan
OKLAHOMA CITY - Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said damages to state roadways from May's flooding rains could top $10 million. That, however, will be just a small fraction of the total damage to infrastructure and property statewide from storms last month.
Governor Mary Fallin has faced daunting disaster recoveries before, and this one -- 13 fatalities and, potentially, hundreds of million of dollars in damage -- should prove no less challenging.
"May has been a very difficult month," Governor Fallin stated to a group reporters at the Capitol Tuesday. "But we are resilient people."
At a news conference to update media on the state's recovery efforts, Governor Fallin said that bouncing back begins with getting a handle on the scope of the devastation -- widespread damage caused by nearly a month's worth of flooding rains, tornadoes, and whatever else Mother Nature could throw at the Sooner state.
"We've seen the Oklahoma Standard time and time again come forward where neighbors help neighbors," said Fallin.
But the Governor said recovering from this disaster will require more than just neighborly good will.
So far, 70 of 77 counties in the state have reported some sort of damage, while 60 counties have reported road and bridge damage. The governor said so far, there's been $13 million in uninsured infrastructure damage documented.
Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said teams specially-trained to assess road and bridge repair needs will begin their work on Friday.
"Hopefully, everyone can be a little patient with us," said Ridley. "We are moving very, very quickly, as the governor has directed us to."
Getting federal disaster declarations for as many affected counties as possible is the overall goal.
To date, the governor has submitted 16 counties for individual aid. The first three to be submitted were Cleveland, Oklahoma, and Grady Counties. They were all approved last week. The same 16 counties have also been submitted for public assistance.
State Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said assessments are being done in other counties as well.
"So for the county commissioners, I've heard from many out there, and from the cities out there who are saying, 'I think we've been missed, no one's talked to me,'" said Ashwood. "Actually, we are setting up those assessments as we speak."
There are eight assessment teams spread out across the state. Ultimately, emergency management officials said the state is likely to ask the federal government to provide assistance for somewhere between 50 and 70 counties.
The governor said the best thing Oklahomans can do to help in this process is register with FEMA and document any damage they've suffered.