Osage County included in state’s request for disaster assistance

Nathan ThompsonJournal-Capital

OKLAHOMA CITY — Osage County has been included in a request Gov. Mary Fallin sent on Friday to the federal government to see if major disaster declaration can be called for the winter storm, ice, sleet and flooding that began Dec. 26.

The request for assistance in Osage County is for municipalities and rural cooperatives to help recuperate costs for responding to the winter storm and the infrastructure repairs necessary to restore power to thousands of residents in the county. Another 40 counties across the state were included in the request for public assistance.

Additionally, Fallin requested individual assistance relief for homeowners, renters and business owners in nine counties. Osage County residents did not qualify.

Jerry Roberts, director of Osage County Emergency Management, told the Journal-Capital that the response from his department to the winter storm did not meet the threshold to qualify for assistance and that the proposed disaster declaration is most likely for electric companies.

“I know that several electric cooperatives worked around the clock to restore power, especially in the Shidler area,” Roberts said. “I heard reports that some people were without electricity in the county for over a week as crews worked to get it restored, but Osage County Emergency Management did not qualify for assistance.”

Fallin’s office said preliminary assessments indicate statewide 108 homes were destroyed and 99 others were damaged as a result of the storms. Additionally, an estimated $48 million in infrastructure damages and response costs have been identified in these counties.

The storm resulted in power outages for more than 200,000 homes and businesses statewide, numerous road closures and dangerous travel conditions in some areas. The storm is blamed for at least four deaths and 104 injuries.

In eastern Oklahoma, residents in Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes, McCurtain, Muskogee, Ottawa, Pushmataha and Sequoyah counties could qualify for individual assistance following devastating flooding from record rainfall. The remaining counties in the request for a public disaster declaration are in central, western and southwestern Oklahoma, areas that were highly impacted by the winter storm.