Disaster News Network Print This
 

OK opens disaster centers

Disaster recovery centers were scheduled to open Wednesday morning in three communities hit hard by last week series of devastating tornadoes, federal officials have announced.

BY PJ HELLER | OKLAHOMA CITY | May 14, 2003


"I'd hate to see anyone miss out on available federal help simply because they didn't make a phone call."

—Gov. Brad Henry


Disaster recovery centers were scheduled to open Wednesday morning in three communities hit hard by last week series of devastating tornadoes, federal officials have announced.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it would open centers in Moore, Midwest City and Bethany to assist the hundreds of people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the twisters last Thursday and Friday.

Although there are conflicting statements on the number of structures damaged, it appears that the tornadoes damaged or destroyed more than 3,000 homes, businesses and public buildings in the Oklahoma City area.

Moore was the hardest hit, with more than 1,200 structures damaged or destroyed. The tornado ripped through Moore last Thursday.

Damage to the stricken communities has been estimated at $100 million.

The storm was blamed for one fatality. More than 100 people were injured, none critically.

The disaster recovery centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be staffed by representatives from FEMA, the Small Business Administration, The Salvation Army, the state Civil Emergency Management Department and the state insurance commissioner's office.

FEMA is also planning to open recovery units Thursday in Stroud and in Edmond.

"We want to make sure that every person or business affected by the tornadoes gets every bit of assistance that is available," said Gov. Brad Henry.

Henry urged affected residents to call a toll-free disaster hot line number to begin the assistance process and to determine eligibility for aid.

"I'd hate to see anyone miss out on available federal help simply because they didn't make a phone call," Henry said.

Initial reports said most of the homeowners affected by the storms were insured.

Nine Oklahoma counties have been declared federal disaster areas, making them eligible for disaster relief.

Meantime, cleanup continued throughout the area and residents continued to sift through the debris to salvage what they could. Skies remained cloudy and windy Tuesday but the severe weather that had been forecast for the Oklahoma City never materialized. Thunderstorms, some possibly severe, were also being forecast for Wednesday.

In Oklahoma City, the General Motors plant that was damaged by Thursday's tornado remained closed.

Gayland Kitch, emergency management director for Moore, said cleanup efforts there were expected to take several weeks. Hauling of debris that has piled up at curbsides is expected to begin this weekend.

Deputy Fire Chief Gary Bird said it took the city about three months to clean up after a deadly twister tore through the town on May 3, 1999. He estimated that cleanup efforts would be completed in half the time now.

"The city is very resilient," Bird said. "They'll overcome. They'll clean up. We'll rebuild and go on."


Related Topics:

Wicked weather hits NE Texas

Tornado hits Michigan town

Tornadoes tear through Illinois and Midwest


More links on Tornadoes

Find this article at:

http://www.disasternews.net/news/article.php?articleid=1431

Advertisers:

DNN Sponsors include:

Advertisements: