OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Federal authorities approved a request to add 18 more Oklahoma counties to a major disaster declaration for a devastating ice storm just hours after Gov. Brad Henry submitted it on Friday.
“We appreciate the speedy turnaround from federal authorities,” Henry said. “This indicates FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) understands the severity of the ice storm damage suffered across the state. We will continue to push for additional assistance for the people of Oklahoma.”
The 18 counties will be in addition to seven counties already approved to receive public assistance for repairs to roads, bridges and public facilities, debris removal and other costs.
The newly approved counties are Beaver; Caddo; Canadian; Craig; Creek; Delaware; Grady; McClain; Nowata; Okfuskee; Okmulgee; Osage; Ottawa; Pawnee; Payne; Rogers; Seminole and Washington.
President Bush earlier this week approved public assistance for Cleveland; Lincoln; Mayes; Oklahoma; Pottawatomie; Tulsa and Wagoner counties.
As additional preliminary damage assessments are completed, more counties will be requested to receive public assistance, Henry said.
The governor has estimated that the storm caused more than $200 million in damage in the state. It led to 29 deaths and disrupted electrical service to more than 600,000 homes and businesses in the biggest blackout in state history.
Public Service Company of Oklahoma said Friday it had restored power to all customers who can receive it safely. Oklahoma Gas and Electric made a similar announcement Thursday.
However, several thousand Oklahoma homes and businesses remain without power due to damage to connections between the power grid and individual homes. The utility companies say damage to that equipment is the responsibility of the property owner.
Oklahoma City and Tulsa have established programs to help homeowners with such repairs.
By Friday afternoon, emergency management officials reported about 3,500 homes and businesses remained without power, including about 2,300 in the Oklahoma City area.