OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislators from southern Oklahoma praised the state legislature for its quick approval of legislation to help fund tornado relief efforts in Moore, Shawnee and other areas affected by Sunday and Monday’s tornadoes. Senate Bill 249, coauthored by Sen. Frank Simpson, appropriates $45 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the State Emergency Fund through the Department of Emergency Management for matching federal disaster funds and for other disaster-related assistance in devastated areas.
“In the past, communities, counties and state agencies have had to wait months, and sometimes, years to recoup monies owed them by the state following natural disasters. I’m proud of my colleagues for taking a proactive approach and using the Rainy Day for its intended purpose, which is to pay for emergencies,” said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “Officials have said the damage to Moore could be up to three times that of the May 3, 1999 tornado. That storm caused over $1 billion in damage but there are no estimates as of yet for this horrific storm. Thanks to the quick, nonpartisan action of the legislature, though, $45 million will be available soon, which will be matched with federal dollars.”
Rep. Pat Ownbey said he hopes the legislature will begin looking more seriously at ways to better prepare and protect communities from natural disasters like this one.
“We have experienced deadly tornadoes in southern Oklahoma, but the scope of the devastation in Moore is startling,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “The Rainy Day fund was set up to provide the state with a source of emergency funding for disasters just like this one. I have worked on tornado safety issues in the past and I hope that this tragedy will encourage other lawmakers to look more seriously into the safety of our communities in times of natural disaster.”
Two people were killed and more than 100 injured Sunday during the tornadoes that went through Carney, Bethel Acres, Shawnee and Norman. Monday’s E5 tornado that went through southwest Oklahoma City and Moore killed 24 people and injured nearly 400.
“It was a great pleasure to support this bill that will help Oklahomans who have faced such devastating losses,” said Hardin, R-Madill. “It’s the ‘Oklahoma Way’ to do all we can to help our neighbors in their time of need.”
SB 249 passed both the Senate and House unanimously and will now be considered by the Governor.
“Seeing first hand in my district two years ago how people are negatively impacted by these terrible events of nature, I am thankful that our state has a sufficient Rainy Day fund to aid our citizens and emergency service providers in this trying time,” said McCall, R-Atoka.