Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People


Oklahoma Tornado

How the State Pays to Clean up After Tornadoes and other Disasters


Oklahoma’s State Emergency Fund was created in 1963 to help communities respond to disasters.

Once a presidential disaster declaration has been formally issued, the federal government pays 75 percent of the reimbursement costs to cities, counties, electric cooperatives, water districts and other entities that sustained infrastructure damage.

The state has not had any presidential or federal disaster declarations in 2012, thus far.

Oklahoma had 30 federally declared disasters in 2011, data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency show. This includes one emergency declaration, four major disasters and 25 fire management assistance declarations.

Since 1953, Oklahoma has had:

  • 70 major disaster declarations
  • 10 emergency declarations
  • 78 fire management assistance declarations

The remaining 25 percent of the reimbursement costs are split between the state and individual entity.

When it comes to spending on cleanup and rebuilding, ice storms are generally more costly than tornadoes or wildfires, according to emergency management officials and spending data. Almost all the all the disaster costs from 2007-2010, for example, stemmed from severe winter storms.

Counties, cities and towns are the first reimbursement priority. Electric cooperatives — which account for half the amount incurred by 2007–2010 disasters — are usually the last to be reimbursed.

Latest Posts

Mapped: Which Oklahoma Schools Have Storm Shelters

Oklahoma School Shelters

StateImpact has mapped the data from the survey, the first statewide accounting of public school storm shelters, which was conducted by Bar None Consulting for the Oklahoma Legislature’s use in an interim study.

First Step in School Tornado Shelter Ballot Measure Will Be Filed This Week

State Rep. Joe Dorman

Proponents of a ballot measure to help fund schools storm shelters are hoping to put a $500 million bond issue in front of statewide voters. The first step in the ballot measure process is filing initiative paperwork, which supporters plan to do on Sept. 18, the Tulsa World’s Barbara Hoberock reports. Local school districts would [...]

Madill Voters Approve Bond Issue for School Tornado Shelters

A number of school districts across Oklahoma are considering adding safe rooms after May’s deadly tornado in Moore, Okla., that killed seven children at Plaza Towers Elementary. StateImpact has reported on Oklahoma City’s effort to install safe rooms at 22 of its schools, as well as Alex and Woodward’s plans to do the same. Now, [...]

Oklahoma’s Building Codes Don’t Factor for Tornadoes

Tim Marshall, a metrologist and civil engineer, stands near a water tank in a tornado-ravaged Moore neighborhood. The tank fell from the sky after being carried a half-mile, Marshall says.

The “Oklahoma Standard” is a phrase that describes how this state responds in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, like the tornado that ripped through Moore on May 20. But that resiliency isn’t reflected in Oklahoma’s construction standards, which don’t factor for tornadoes.

Moore Tornado Victims Face Tragedy and Insurance Companies Following Storm

Tornado victims wait in line to apply for FEMA assistance Wednesday in Moore, Okla.

An army of insurance adjusters from across the country started to descend on Moore less than 24 hours after Monday’s storm, and by Wednesday morning, a long line of them had formed outside the First Baptist Church. Many were already in the area because of hail and tornados from earlier storms, and now they’re in [...]

Record Spending on Snowy and Icy Roads in Oklahoma


Rachel A.K. / Flickr The State of Oklahoma spent more than $14.6 million last year to remove snow and ice from state roads and highways, Department of Transportation data show. Total spending on equipment, materials and labor in Fiscal Year 2011 was the highest it’s ever been, said DOT spokesman Cole Hackett.

No Federal Earthquake Assistance for Oklahoma

Oklahoma will not receive federal earthquake assistance, state emergency management officials said last night. Gov. Mary Fallin requested individual assistance on Nov. 22 for about 200 homes and businesses in Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties, which were damaged by a series of quakes that began on Nov. 5. The Tulsa World’s Amanda Bland with details from [...]

Gov. Fallin Seeks Federal Aid for Earthquake Recovery

A federal disaster declaration would free up funding for grants, low-interest loans and housing assistance for businesses, homeowners and renters in Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties. The Oklahoman’s Michael McNutt reports that other counties could be added to Fallin’s FEMA request if further damage is found. Preliminary damage assessments conducted last week confirmed damage to nearly [...]

Officials Find Unused $8.4 Million for Natural Disaster Reimbursements

Cities, towns and counties that haven't been reimbursed for disasters dating back to 2007 will be paid first, emergency management officials said.

The state will send $8.4 million to cities, counties, towns and the Oklahoma National Guard to reimburse costs related to natural disasters and extreme weather events. Cities, counties and towns will get $6.4 million, and the Guard will receive $2 million for costs related to fighting wildfires, including expensive helicopter missions to dump water on [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »