Aid Expanding For Wildfire Recovery Efforts

Saturday, March 11th 2017, 10:47 pm
By: News 9

Rain across the Oklahoma City metro did not reach the areas it was needed most this weekend.

The Oklahoma Forestry Service said there has been mist, but no measurable rain in northwestern Oklahoma, where hundreds of thousands of acres are still smoldering.

The Forestry Service reports that while there are no active flames in the fire's footprint, there are plenty of hotspots that firefighters will have to monitor over the next week. As firefighters try to contain the perimeter, crews are starting to take account of the devastation.

Eight homes have been destroyed, and one Oklahoman in Oklahoma has died in wildfires this week. Woodward County emergency manager Matt Lehenbauer told News 9 it may take another week to get a headcount of livestock lost.

Meantime, hay is the number one necessity for the animals that survived. Donation stations have been inundated with bales of hay, and others are chipping in money to replace fences, buildings and equipment.

“The Oklahoma spirit exists not only on an individual level that’s what Oklahomans are, but also exists at a corporate level, the business side,” said Oklahoma Farm Bureau president Tom Buchanan. “That’s something we should all be proud of as we look forward into the future.”

Gov. Mary Fallin has also stepped in, asking the USDA to grant emergency access to environmentally protected grazing land.

In a letter to the agency from the governors of Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, Fallin said, “We urge the Farm Service Agency to expedite the implementation of the Emergency Conservation Program in our states.”

On Friday, U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford toured the scorched farmlands with an aerial view. Congressman Frank Lucas was the latest lawmaker to visit first responders in the panhandle Saturday morning. All of the legislators offered online resources to help farmers file for federal assistance.

“Some of the disaster relief requests are time-limited, so you have to get the paperwork in at a certain time,” Lankford said.

The Red Cross is asking for donations to continue providing snacks and water to the more than 100 people still battling the wildfires in northwestern Oklahoma.

Donate hay at the following locations:

  • Buffalo Feeders at 4 miles east of Buffalo, OK on Highway 64 (Contact: Caleb Nelson (580) 727-1332)
  • Tyree Ag on US-283 in Laverne, OK (Contact: Jay Dee Nielsen (580) 334-6819)
  • Dale Long, northeast of Gate, OK (Contact: Dale Long (580) 571-1249)
  • May Coop Elevator in May, OK (Contact: Tom Fanning (580) 727-5530)
  • Buffalo Coop at 322 E Harper in Buffalo, OK (Contact: Beverly Mings (580) 735-2533)
  • Western Equipment at 3999 Lakeview Drive in Woodward, OK (Contact: Caleb Zook (580) 254-0080)

For donations of trucking services contact the Harper County Extension Office at (580) 735-2252.

To donate to the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation relief fund, click here.