NORMAN — The Cleveland County assessor expects the number of homes destroyed by Monday’s tornado will exceed the total from the May 1999 tornado that devoured much of the city of Moore.
Assessor David Tinsley said Tuesday, “Just looking, it appears it’s going to be a little worse.”
“Part of the reason is that the 1999 tornado moved faster, while this one stayed around and chewed away,” he added.
The assessor’s office is gearing up to fan out through the tornado area and assess property damages. That could occur in two or three weeks, Tinsley said.
“We can’t even go in there now. We have to stay out of the way like everyone else.”
Meanwhile, Tinsley is working with Pictometry International Corp. hired to provide aerial pictures to the county as an aid to the assessor.
“They are going to fly when the weather breaks,” said Tinsley, noting that the company will provide these emergency service without pay.
Tinsley said he is hoping that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide Cleveland County with a list of damages, which will help the assessor. In 1999, FEMA provided the information.
Tinsley said he expects homes will be valued at 50 percent damage or 100 percent destroyed. Those receiving much less than 50 percent damage would be handled separately.
The county assessor’s office is the government entity that keeps track of property and improvements and uses the values as a basis for tax collections.
Tinsley expects to have eight of his employees assessing property damages. That information coupled with the aerial shots by Pictometry and hopefully a list from FEMA, accurate assessments can be made.
Residents and businesses damaged by the storm can alert the assessor’s office and provide information to aid the property adjustments.
The assessor’s office in Norman can be reached by calling 366-0230, Tinsley said.