The Norman Transcript

August 26, 2013

Tulsa official: aid unlikely

Associated Press
The Associated Press

TULSA — Tulsa’s city manager says there’s little hope of receiving federal disaster aid for last month’s windstorm that knocked out power to more than 100,000 electrical customers.

City Manager Jim Twombly told the Tulsa World on Friday he was not sure how much money the city has spent on cleanup efforts. But Twombly said any costs would be related to fuel and overtime for about 120 workers who continue to work their way through neighborhoods.

He said officials aren’t expecting federal aid for the cleanup costs, which he said officials have projected at about $10,000 per week.

“As it stands right now, we’re tracking our information as if there would be. However, we’re not very encouraged at this time that there will be,” he said.

Thunderstorms bearing hurricane-force winds downed trees and power lines on July 24, disrupting power to more than 100,000 Tulsa-area Public Service Company of Oklahoma customers and launching a debris cleanup effort that’s lasted nearly four weeks.

Federal reimbursement would come only if a federal disaster is declared, Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency Director Roger Joliff said.

Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state-level emergency following the storm, which opens the door for a federal declaration. But the state is required to “show that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the local governments,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The city received federal reimbursement after the destructive Dec. 9, 2007, ice storm because it was a far more severe event, Twombly said. Crews contracted by the city picked up more than 2.6 million cubic yards of tree debris following that storm in a nearly $10 million operation.

Slightly more than halfway through the latest cleanup effort, the city has picked up 52,601 cubic yards of debris.

State emergency officials say the possibility of a federal declaration is still under review, Joliff said.