Oklahoma Senate approves $45M in disaster relief for communities affected by tornadoes

Thursday, 16 May 2024 16:36

Oklahoma Senate approves $45M in disaster relief for communities affected by tornadoes Featured

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to appropriate $45 million to help counties that have been ravaged by recent tornadoes.

The Senate gave final passage to House Bill 2912 and House Bill 2913 that will help Oklahoma counties approved for FEMA disaster assistance recover and rebuild following the storms. The bills now advance to the governor’s desk.

HB 2912 creates a new revolving fund for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management to provide “advanced financial liquidity” to local governments that have been approved for FEMA disaster assistance. This will allow the Department of Emergency Management to offer loans that will help local governments cover the costs of temporary housing and shelters, infrastructure repairs and other unexpected costs related to debris removal and recovery efforts. Local governments could also tap into these funds to offset revenue losses stemming from the storm damage and help cover the local 12.5% match needed to receive FEMA assistance. 

HB 2913 appropriates $30 million to the new fund and $15 million to the State Emergency Fund to cover the match the state must put up to qualify for FEMA disaster assistance.

Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry, and Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, authored the bills.

“It’s been heartbreaking to see the extensive tornado damage in communities across the state,” Hall said. “These relief funds will immediately give Oklahomans the capital they need to recover and start over while also helping localities unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg McCortney, R-Ada, said these funds will go a long way toward helping with recovery efforts in Sulphur, which is in his Senate district.

“The Senate fast-tracked this relief funding to help Sulphur, Barnsdall, Marietta and other cities and towns recover and rebuild as quickly as possible,” McCortney said. “Working together to help our communities in times of crisis is part of the Oklahoma Standard. I’m proud to have played a small role in ensuring these localities have all the resources they need to build back better than before.”

Carter, Hughes, Love, Murray, Okmulgee, Osage, Pontotoc and Washita have been approved for FEMA disaster assistance so far.

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