By Ken Childers
Okfuskee County has been officially declared as a disaster area following several rounds of severe weather in May, which included flash flooding and tornadoes.
Terry Wilson, chairman of the Okfuskee County Board of County Commissioners, signed the proclamation during an emergency meeting held Friday morning at the county courthouse.
The proclamation, which covers the entire month of May, entitles the county to receive both federal and state funding to aid with storm relief.
The county saw several days of severe weather in May, including a tornado outbreak on May 22 that spawned two twisters. One of the tornadoes touched down and caused considerable damage, particularly in rural areas near Okemah.
According to Jim Bill Copeland, Emergency Management Director, there were 35 homes damaged. Copeland said three of the houses had significant roof damage, which in turn caused interior damage. Two homes, both of them unoccupied, were completely destroyed. There were no fatalities and only one minor storm-related injury was reported.
The proclamation went into effect May 31 and expires after 30 days unless the board extends it.
Governor Kevin Stitt recently amended an executive order to declare a State of Emergency for all 77 counties in Oklahoma impacted by flooding and severe storms.
“As severe weather and heavy rainfall has continued, numerous areas have experienced widespread, significant flooding, tornadoes, high winds, and large hail,”officials stated in a press release. “Damage assessments are ongoing and, in some areas, cannot be completed until floodwater recedes.”
The State of Emergency was originally signed on May 1 covering 52 counties, then on May 8 it was extended to 14 more counties.
Under the executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions to expedite the delivery of resources to local communities. It is also the first step in seeking federal assistance, in the event it becomes necessary.