NORMAN — The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Gov. Mary Fallin’s request for a presidential declaration for Cleveland County.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reports that 154 homes were damaged, including 141 destroyed in Cleveland County. At least 127 of those homes were uninsured. Those preliminary numbers were verified by FEMA teams working the area, but it wasn’t enough to qualify the county for a presidential declaration.
With 30 days to appeal there is still hope. Teams continue to document Cleveland County damage.
“That number is going up,” Cleveland County Emergency Management Director Dan Cary said. “We’re still working on verifying addresses and making sure everyone is on our list. It looks like right now we have in excess of 180 homes destroyed. Various inspection teams have gone out and we’re compiling all of those reports.”
“The August 22, 2012, major disaster declaration, FEMA-4078-DR authorized Individual Assistance for the Freedom Wildfire in Creek County and Hazard Mitigation statewide. The damage to the dwellings from the Freedom Wildfire was significant in Creek County. However, based on our review of all of the information available, including the results of the joint federal, state, and local government Individual Assistance Preliminary Damage Assessment, it has been determined that the damage to the dwellings from wildfires in Cleveland, Oklahoma, and Payne counties was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance for these counties. Therefore, your request for Individual Assistance for Cleveland, Oklahoma, and Payne Counties is denied,” writes W. Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator.
“I am extremely disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny disaster assistance to all Oklahomans who have been tragically impacted by these fires,” Fallin said, in response to the denial letter received from FEMA.
“We are still receiving calls for people asking what their next step is,” Cary said. “We’ll be working with the state to come up with a state of Oklahoma declaration if we can’t get the presidential declaration. We’re still looking for other options if the federal help is not available.”