(Oklahoma City) – Federal officials have formally denied Oklahoma’s appeal for individual assistance in the December ice storm, according to the governor’s office.
Gov. Brad Henry called the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency disappointing and frustrating.
“We worked with the FEMA coordinator on site to compile our aid request and documented the appropriate damages, all of which are reimbursable under federal guidelines,” said the governor. “We felt we met all of the necessary thresholds, but FEMA still said no, not once but twice.
“Oklahoma ice storm victims did not get a fair shake on disaster assistance.”
Although FEMA did not specifically explain why it denied Oklahoma’s original, January 9 request or its appeal, top FEMA officials have told the media and others that not enough homes sustained damage to qualify.
Gov. Henry said structural damage is only one small component of reimbursable damages and should not have disqualified the state’s request.
“Ice storms don’t knock down buildings like other disasters, but they do inflict significant damages in the form of lost wages for employees and lost revenues for businesses. Those are reimbursable disaster losses that Oklahomans may have to shoulder because of FEMA’s denial,” the governor said.
In its request, the state cited multiple disasters in 2007, damages to homes and businesses, the fiscal impact to businesses closed by power outages and the continuing health hazard of remaining storm debris, among other things.
In its denial, FEMA stated that Oklahoma and its non-profit assistance organizations could cover state losses.
“That’s not a realistic suggestion after a record nine disaster declarations in 2007. We are stretched to the limit.” said the governor.
The December ice storm left more than 640,000 homes and businesses without power and caused 29 deaths.