OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Only two days after President Bill Clinton issued the disaster declaration. May 4, the first financial assistance checks have been approved for Oklahomans whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the tornadoes, severe storms and flooding that occurred May 3-5.
The first checks were approved Thursday, May 6, and more than $180,000 in disaster housing assistance had been approved for 182 families as of Saturday, May 8. The grant money can be used for emergency repairs to make homes habitable, or to help pay for a hotel or other rental housing while a family's home is rebuilt, according to Robert E. Hendrix, federal coordinating officer.
"The people receiving these first checks were among the first to call the toll-free registration number and have their homes inspected," Hendrix said. "Many more applications will be approved daily as local, state and federal agencies work to help people recover from these storms."
Anyone receiving the housing assistance may still be eligible for further assistance. That assistance could include additional grants, or low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which provides the loans to cover business and residential losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Hendrix encouraged residents and business owners in the disaster-declared counties who suffered damages from the storms to register for disaster assistance by calling the toll-free number - 800-462-9029 (TTY - 800-462-7585). The phone lines will be operating from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (CT), seven days a week, until further notice.
"It's very important for people to call that number to get the aid process started for them," said Fred Liebe, state coordinating officer with the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management. The declared counties are Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Craig, Creek, Grady, Kingfisher, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Noble, Oklahoma, Ottawa, LeFlore, Pottawatomie and Tulsa.