NORMAN — More than two months after a tornado raked through Cleveland County, the bills are coming due and the rubber is meeting the road. It’s often long after the television cameras have left when the local officials have to make the hard decisions following disasters.
Moore city officials this week approved $32 million in budget supplements, all tied to tornado damage and recovery. FEMA pays reimbursements to cities and towns for cleanup costs.
The federal government pays most of the costs, with the state picking up a portion of it. Norman had the same situation a few years ago when an ice storm destroyed thousands of trees. No matter what is reimbursed, cities never fully recover as unexpected costs surface months after federal and state funding ends.
Another hard decision for Moore is what to do with damaged properties that have been abandoned. City Manager Steve Eddy said 112 homes were sent official notices of condemnation. About half have responded.
After Aug. 15, officials will tear down what is left of those homes, so as to not leave a public nuisance in neighborhoods where others are trying to rebuild. Owners will find a lien attached to the property. It seems callous, but cities need to move forward.