WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in Oklahoma as the state recovers from a massive tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, killing dozens and flattening entire neighborhoods.
Obama has ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. Individuals and business owners affected by the disaster may apply for federal grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs.
The president promised federal assistance in a phone conversation earlier Monday with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (FAL'-ihn). The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent a special team to Oklahoma's emergency operations center to help out and dispatch resources.
Below, the full declaration from The White House:
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Oklahoma and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning on May 18, 2013, and continuing.
The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Sandy Coachman as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties may apply for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
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President Barack Obama
White House official: <blockquote>The Administration, through FEMA, is closely monitoring the storm. The President has been notified by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco and is receiving updates from his team as information comes in from the ground. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has spoken with Governor Mary Fallin to make sure there are no unmet needs and to make clear that at the President’s direction the Administration and FEMA stand ready to provide all available assistance in response to the severe weather. The Administration continues to urge all those in affected or potentially affected areas to follow the direction of state and local officials as this severe weather continues.</blockquote>
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)
Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who was raised in Moore, Okla., addressed the tornado damage in an interview with CNN: <blockquote> It's my hometown … I can literally recognize the homes and the businesses. It's early to know, never helpful to speculate about this. Fortunately the warning system is very good. The national severe storm laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma -- they do an unbelievable job. People take these things seriously. This is in Moore, Oklahoma, where I lived for 15 years … just looking what I could judge from the photographs and the film, it may be worse than the one in '99, which took out 6,000 houses, killed 37 people. So we're talking about extraordinary damage, and when something like that happens, even with the best warning and people heeding it, and they do take it seriously, there's always the potential if you got a direct hit for something really deadly." </blockquote>
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
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