Due to the severity of several May storms in the state, Pottawatomie County has been approved for Federal assistance. Other counties also included in disaster relief are Canadian, Creek, Delaware, Kay, Logan, Mayes, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Payne, Rogers. Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington.
Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management Director Don Lynch said applications are now open for individuals and businesses seeking disaster relief.
According to the disaster assistance website, funds approved for individual and households program total nearly $6.8 million. There are 648 individual assistance applications approved.
“The designation covers individuals and business owners that have been affected by severe storms since May 7 and provides Federal assistance for housing repairs and temporary housing,” Lynch said. “as well as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property; disaster unemployment assistance; and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs.”
To apply for disaster assistance, individuals and business owners should call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or visit www.disasterassistance.gov, he said.
“The Federal Emergency Management Agency will also have Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams in the area to help people register if needed,” he said. “The exact locations and times have yet to be determined.”
Lynch said it's still important for residents to report damage they have experienced.
“The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management continues to ask residents impacted by the recent storms to report damage to their property at www.damage.ok.gov or by calling 2-1-1,” he said. “Reporting damage helps local and state emergency management better coordinate response and recovery efforts.”
Residents can even report damage to homes, businesses or agriculture through the online survey, he said.
Lynch said several other agencies and programs are able to help, depending on the circumstances or need.
• Those who have become unemployed as a result of the storms can apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Call the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission at 1 (800) 555-1554 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit https://unemployment.state.ok.us. Applications must be filed by July 15.
• The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs may be able to provide a financial grant to veterans affected by the storms. For eligibility requirements, veterans may call (405) 523-4000.
• The Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency’s Disaster Housing Assistance Program has been activated. Services for qualified households provide assistance with up to $1,500 toward one month’s rent, rental or utility deposits or hotel accommodations. Services are only available to Red Cross referred applicants whose homes are inhabitable.
• Oklahomans seeking non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, can call 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day.
• Anyone needing help with filing an insurance claim, have questions about the insurance settlement process works or are having trouble dealing with their insurance company can call the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1 (800) 522-0071.
• No-cost, disaster-related legal advice also is available through the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Disaster Relief Program and a partnership with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, and the American Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division. Register online at www.okbar.org/disaster or call 1 (888) 602-8494.
• The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is providing free bacteriological testing of submerged private water wells. Instructions on how to disinfect a well are available at: www.deq.state.ok.us/factsheets/SELS/DisinfectIndividualWaterWells_01-2018.pdf
• The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency offers assistance and low-interest loan programs to farmers and ranchers. To apply for assistance and to report agricultural losses, call the Pottawatomie County Farm Service Agency office at (405) 273-2076. The agency office is at 201 N. Bell, Room 107, in Shawnee.
Ways to help
The best way to support those affected by the severe storms is with cash donations to reputable voluntary organizations, Lynch said.
“Cash donations allow relief organizations or survivors to purchase what they need, when and where they need it,” he said. “Buying supplies locally helps the local community recover by helping local businesses pay salaries and keeping tax revenues in the local community.”
He said do not send additional items unless specifically requested by a local community or organization.
“Do not send unsolicited donations of clothing, miscellaneous items or perishable foods, which must be sorted, warehoused, transported and distributed,” he said. “This requires more effort and staffing to manage those resources and takes away from the recovery efforts.”