The White House approved Oklahoma’s request for a disaster declaration in seven counties after tornadoes and flooding occurred last month.
Home and business owners in Adair, Cherokee, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Pottawatomie, Seminole, and Tulsa counties can apply for federal disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
In Seminole, 629 structures were damaged by an EF-2 tornado. Eight buildings were destroyed and 59 received major damage, according to the city.
“We’re going to work hard to make sure we get Seminole not only back to where it was but better than before,” said Seminole City Attorney Brad Carter.
“When you drive down and look at the devastated areas and you see these homes and businesses, and then you learn that a lot of people didn't have any insurance, they don’t have the financial resources to repair their homes, to restore their property,” Carter said. “It's just a blessing cause now their going to be able to do that.”
The city does not yet know which federal programs will be offered to the area, Carter said. Possible programs include housing assistance, low-interest loans for individuals and businesses through the Small Business Administration, and grants.
“We’re hopeful that that's going to help a lot of people put their lives back together,” Carter said.
The downtown area of Seminole is lined with American flags ahead of the 4th of July. Some businesses, however, are still shuttered from structural damage to multiple buildings.
Kristin Hill works downtown and is on the downtown district board. She said efforts to clean up have been interrupted by debris.
“We had to quit all of our downtown cleanups because (pieces of) metal were flying off the roofs and it was just too much,” she said. “We can't get our trashcans back in the alleyways because there are bricks in the alleyways we can't get through.”
Hill said she hopes more volunteers help with their plan to beautify downtown. “We need a lot of help.”