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May 23, 2013

State Senate approves $45 million from Rainy Day fund for relief

OKLAHOMA CITY — The state Senate voted Wednesday to take $45 million from the state Rainy Day Fund for immediate tornado disaster relief.

Senate Bill 249 was passed unanimously in the Senate and sent to the House, where members will vote very soon to approve the measure and send it to the governor.

SB 249 was passed in response to a request by Gov. Mary Fallin.

Rep. Scott Martin, head of the powerful House Budget and Appropriations Committee, applauded the Senate’s quick action and is working to get the bill heard quickly by the House.

“I am excited and thrilled for Cleveland County,” said Martin, a Norman Republican.  Each dollar the state spends in disaster aid will be matched by $3 from the federal government.

The $45 million would prompt the federal government to provide another $135 million.

The elected officials are responding to the devastation resulting from an EF5 tornado that hit much of Moore on Monday.  At least 24 people were killed and more than 200 injured. Additionally, a tornado in eastern Cleveland County earlier in the week killed two men and damaged dozens of homes in the Bethel Acres area.

It has been projected that the damage from Monday’s storm could exceed that of May 3, 1999, which topped $1 billion.

While the lawmakers have been scrambling at the Capitol to authorize funding from the state Rainy Day Fund, Rep. Mark McBride has spent his weekdays in his district.  McBride’s House district was the one receiving the most damage.

Republican McBride concluded that he was needed by his constituents, trying to help coordinate efforts and also to provide the tour for Fallin and U.S. senators and representatives who toured the disaster site on Tuesday.

“I left the Capitol just as soon as I thought I could get to my district,” McBride said.  The home of his parents, Jim and Frankie McBride, was destroyed.  But his parents were not injured.

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