September 7, 2012
By Michael McNutt , The Oklahoman
Gov. Mary Fallin filed a formal appeal letter Thursday asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reverse its decision denying individual assistance to wildfire victims in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties.
Fallin questioned why FEMA granted assistance for wildfire victims in Creek County but denied the request for the other three counties.
Oklahomans in these counties suffered damage from wildfires during the same time period and as a result of the same extreme weather and drought conditions.
She said the agency's decision appears lopsided and unfair. The July 28-Aug. 14 wildfires damaged nearly 300 homes in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne Counties; of those about 270 were destroyed.
An estimated 85 percent of the homes damaged or destroyed were not insured. One person died in the fire in Cleveland County. An individual assistance declaration would make home and business owners eligible for assistance with housing repairs or temporary housing and disaster unemployment assistance.
It also would provide for U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest loans for individuals and businesses and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs.