As local officials stepped to the microphone Tuesday and asked residents to submit claims for damages related to the July flood, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management office made a statewide request for residents to include all weather-related damages suffered since May 24.
In recent weeks, Oklahomans have suffered through a series of tornadoes, storms and flood events that have displaced hundreds of residents.
“Currently, Ottawa and Washington counties are declared for individual assistance. However, all Oklahomans who sustained damage to their home, business or vehicle since May 24 are urged to register for disaster assistance,” said Michelann Ooten of the state's emergency management office.
“OEM will monitor these calls and make additional requests for federal disaster assistance based on the calls received,” Ooten said. “Even if residents have registered with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army or a local call center, they still need to make the toll-free call to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and report their damages.”
Ooten said residents may be eligible for assistance for housing repairs or temporary housing, U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest loans for individuals and businesses, disaster unemployment assistance and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs.
Miami City Manager Michael Spurgeon is asking residents to report damages - even if the damage seems insignificant and can easily and inexpensivley be repaired.
“This is a federal program designed to assist communities in times of disaster,” Spurgeon said. “Citizens need to try and get every thing they are entitled to.”
An early assessment of homes impacted by the flood in Miami indicates that 647 households were affected, according to Spurgeon.
Of that number, 236 were destroyed, 266 received major damage, 106 sustained minor damage and 39 additional homes were affected.
Assessment teams continue to survey infrastructure damages throughout the state. Governor Brad Henry plans to ask for public assistance to be added to the disaster assistance request after a sufficient number of surveys are completed. In many cases, flood waters delayed assessment teams from examining damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
“Regardless of how much water you received on your property, file a claim,” Spurgeon said. “Let FEMA decide if you are eligible or not.”
The number to call to register a claim by telephone is 1-800-621-3362. Area residents should mention declaration number DROK1712.
Claims may also be registered through the Internet at www.fema.gov.
Local officials have not announced a deadline for filing damage claims, but have said the “window of opportunity will be closing shortly.”