It has been a particularly rainy spring across parts of the Midwestern United States, and Oklahoma has been especially hard hit with repeated heavy rains that have inundated the creeks, rivers, and streams and caused significant flooding in many areas.
The flooding already prompted the state’s governor to declare an official state of emergency for all 77 counties in the state, and now President Donald Trump’s administration has followed suit by issuing a federal declaration of emergency for 10 of the counties hardest hit.
Governor declares statewide emergency
KJRH in Tulsa reported that a state of emergency was first issued on May 1 for some 52 counties. That declaration was extended to 14 more counties on May 8, and has now been extended once more to include all 77 counties in the state.
“As severe weather and heavy rainfall has continued, numerous areas have experienced widespread, significant flooding, tornadoes, high winds, and large hail,” said the Oklahoma secretary of state’s office in a statement. “Damage assessments are ongoing and, in some areas, cannot be completed until floodwater recedes.”
The executive order from Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt allows state agencies to make acquisitions of crucial resources to deal with the emergency in an expedited manner that avoids the normal bureaucratic red tape. It is also the first step toward applying for federal disaster aid.
Trump extends disaster relief to hardest hit areas
President Trump already noted via Twitter on May 23 that he was aware of and keeping a close eye on the “damaging storms and flooding” across much of Oklahoma.
The flooding has only become more severe in the days since then, a fact which prompted a federal emergency declaration from the White House on May 25, one that will provide federal aid and resources to local, state and tribal authorities in the 10 named counties that have experienced the most devastation.
The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency have been tasked to “coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures.”
The federal disaster declaration is also intended to help “save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Haskell, Kay, LeFlore, Muskogee, Noble, Osage, Pawnee, Sequoyah, Tulsa, and Wagoner.”
“Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” the statement added.
This was something that desperately needed to be done, and hopefully the federal aid will be sufficient to help Oklahomans deal with the natural disaster they are facing.
Unfortunately, with even more heavy rains predicted in the forecasts for areas already inundated, the catastrophic flooding may very well get worse in the near future before it gets any better.