Individuals affected by floods in Stephens County occurring before June 10 will not be eligible for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“There is no individual assistance available for anyone who had damage to their home or business in May or prior to June 10,” Michelann Ooten, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management public information officer, said.

FEMA denied the request for assistance because they determined that the May 24 to June 9 flooding was a separate storm system from storms that caused flooding from June 10 to July 25.

Ooten noted that documentation has been sent to Washington, D.C., showing that the storms responsible for the flooding were actually part of the same system.

The National Weather Service was consulted during the research period and even though FEMA also spoke with the weather service, FEMA maintains that the storm system was two separate entities.

Under that distinction, there was not enough individual damage to warrant a declaration of assistance, Ooten said.

“We have to have at least 100 homes that either have major damage or are destroyed and have no insurance,” she said.

“There is nothing we can do at this time.”

The original request for disaster assistance was made by Gov. Brad Henry July 5. The request came following severe flooding in many areas of Oklahoma and the date given on the application for assistance was May 24 onward.

On July 7 FEMA issued a declaration that changed the date Gov. Henry submitted from May 24 to June 10. No reason was given as to why the date was altered.

“There was no explanation,” Ooten said. “They just simply changed it.”

On Aug. 24 the federal government said the date would not be adjusted back to the original request.

FEMA did approve public assistance requests that include areas flooded before June 10.

Public assistance only covers government entities such as schools and city buildings, though, Ooten said. Individual businesses, homeowners and renters are not covered under this declaration.

Ooten did note that even though FEMA denied the individual assistance request for flooding before June 10, there is still some bitter-sweet news for many Stephens County families.

Of 75 applications received, 71 families or individuals were eligible to file for assistance in the covered period from June 10 to July 25. Those families also sustained damages during the May flooding but they had incurred more damages during the June and July floods.

A request for individual assistance was made Sept. 11 for flooding beginning Aug. 18. Ooten said her office is still waiting to hear word on whether or not FEMA will approve the request.

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