The Oklahoma Tornado Project http://tornado.kgou.org en Auditing The Storm: A Look At Low-Interest Disaster Loans http://tornado.kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-look-low-interest-disaster-loans <p>After a federally-declared disaster, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sba.gov/">U.S. Small Business Administration&nbsp;</a>issues low-interest loans to help homeowners and businesses recover. The agency disbursed over $20 million to&nbsp;Oklahomans&nbsp;following last year’s severe weather outbreak in the central part of the state, so we wanted to look into exactly what it takes to get one of those loans.&nbsp;</p> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 12:30:00 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 10350 at http://tornado.kgou.org Auditing The Storm: A Look At Low-Interest Disaster Loans Auditing The Storm: Low-Interest Loans Go To Individuals, Businesses http://tornado.kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-low-interest-loans-go-individuals-businesses <p>After a presidentially declared disaster like last year’s tornadoes in Central Oklahoma, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sba.gov">U.S. Small Business Administration</a>&nbsp;often steps in, offering&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/disaster-loans">low-interest loans</a>&nbsp;to help homeowners and businesses recover. But the SBA has been criticized in the past for being slow to respond. And following the 2013 storms in the Sooner State, many people still have complaints about the process.&nbsp;</p> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:30:00 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 10084 at http://tornado.kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Low-Interest Loans Go To Individuals, Businesses Auditing The Storm: HUD Funds Trickle Slowly Into Oklahoma Disaster Areas http://tornado.kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-hud-funds-trickle-slowly-oklahoma-disaster-areas <p style="margin-bottom: 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 15px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; line-height: 22px;">In the year since a series of severe storms devastated Central Oklahoma, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hud.gov/" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(12, 76, 162);">U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development&nbsp;</a>has awarded nearly $146 million to the city of Moore and the state to help with recovery. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:35:31 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 9938 at http://tornado.kgou.org Auditing The Storm: HUD Funds Trickle Slowly Into Oklahoma Disaster Areas Auditing The Storm: Hazard Funds Don’t Always Go To Damaged Areas http://tornado.kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-hazard-funds-don-t-always-go-damaged-areas-0 <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">As a massive tornado bore down on Moore on the afternoon of May 20, 2013, residents scrambled to find shelter.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Some retreated to safe rooms at home or in buildings. Many hid in closets, bathrooms or hallways.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Meanwhile, in Stillwater, people were also on alert because a tornado watch had been issued that day. But the city received only a light rain and no wind damage, according to the National Weather Service.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The destruction and deaths caused by the Moore tornado led many people in the city to believe that a residential storm shelter was essential.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">But after the May 20 tornado, when the federal government began approving cash aid for projects like shelters to prevent the future loss of life and property, Moore was shut out of the program, according to data analyzed by&nbsp;</span><em style="line-height: 1.5;">Oklahoma Watch</em><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;in a joint project with&nbsp;</span>KGOU<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;Radio/The Oklahoma Tornado Project.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Stillwater, on the other hand, has so far gotten the largest share of federal “hazard mitigation” funds released under the presidential disaster declaration, records show. Stillwater will spend about $1.9 million, most of it federal money, to help pay for more than 700 safe rooms in residents’ homes. The same program will allow Oklahoma State University there to spend $73,000 to install a lightning detection and warning system, needed partly for sporting events.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Moore has not been left out in the cold.</span></p><p> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:46:33 +0000 Clifton Adcock & Oklahoma Watch 10811 at http://tornado.kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Hazard Funds Don’t Always Go To Damaged Areas Auditing The Storm: Why Moore Missed Out On Mitigation Funds http://tornado.kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-why-moore-missed-out-mitigation-funds <p>When federal aid started pouring into the state after last years’ storms,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fema.gov">FEMA</a>&nbsp;designated $4 million for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program">hazard mitigation</a>&nbsp;– a tool used to protect communities from future severe weather through things like storm shelters. But the communities you’d think might receive this kind of money sometimes don’t.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Residential storm shelters can be expensive. Prices generally start around $2,500 and go up from there. So when&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Hollie</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;Schreiber looked into installing one in her backyard, she just couldn’t justify the cost.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“We had looked into a little bit of what the prices were and just decided it was, at the time, infeasible for us, given that Stillwater hadn't had a tornado and that we'd not actually had to go in our closets,” she said.</span></p><p> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:30:00 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 9843 at http://tornado.kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Why Moore Missed Out On Mitigation Funds Auditing The Storm: Assistance Is Hit And Miss For Individuals After 2013 Tornadoes http://tornado.kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-assistance-hit-and-miss-individuals-after-2013-tornadoes <p>After last year’s deadly tornadoes, private insurers paid out over $1 billion in claims.<a href="http://www.fema.gov/">&nbsp;FEMA&nbsp;</a>also chipped in $15 million as part of its<a href="http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit/recovery-directorate/assistance-individuals-and">&nbsp;individual and household assistance</a>&nbsp;program. But nearly three-quarters of that program’s applicants were denied.&nbsp;</p><p>As part of our&nbsp;<a href="http://kgou.org/topic/auditing-storm-disaster-4117">series&nbsp;</a>tracking the federal aid money, we look at the decision-making process that left much of Central Oklahoma out of luck.</p><p>On the evening of May&nbsp;20th, 2013, James and Sheryl Pennington stepped outside their home in Moore to find debris everywhere. The tornado had left a devastating trail, and they weren’t exempt from its destruction.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“The front door was blown out. We had the roof and windows and some inside damage. The roof leaked the next day. I think it started raining, and we had water pouring into the kitchen.”&nbsp;</span></p><p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:30:00 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 9692 at http://tornado.kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Assistance Is Hit And Miss For Individuals After 2013 Tornadoes Auditing The Storm: Disaster 4117 - Public Assistance Helps Moore Schools Rebuild http://tornado.kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-disaster-4117-public-assistance-helps-moore-schools-rebuild <p>When tornadoes damage buildings, there are a number of things to account for when it comes to insurance and federal aid: how many square feet were there? Is the building a total loss? How much will it cost to repair?</p><p>But you often don’t think about the contents of a building. For example, what about the number of beakers in a school science classroom?&nbsp;</p><p>Robert&nbsp;Romines&nbsp;had been the superintendent of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mooreschools.com/">Moore Public Schools</a>&nbsp;for just one week when the May&nbsp;20<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;tornado devastated the town, leveling two schools, damaging multiple buildings and taking the lives of seven children.&nbsp;Romines&nbsp;promised the town that the district would rebuild, and it would do so quickly.</p><p>“We made a lot of promises early on, and I'll be honest with you, there were a lot of nights I went home shortly after May&nbsp;20th, 2013 and thought to myself, ‘Holy cow, we have made promises not only to our community, but worldwide media was here,’” he said.</p><p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 9645 at http://tornado.kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Disaster 4117 - Public Assistance Helps Moore Schools Rebuild Following Oklahoma's 2013 Tornadoes, Where Does Federal Aid Really Go? http://tornado.kgou.org/post/following-oklahomas-2013-tornadoes-where-does-federal-aid-really-go <p>After a string of deadly tornados hit Oklahoma in the spring of last year, President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration that paved the way for up to $257 million in aid.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">One year later, about one half of that funding has been spent.&nbsp; The Oklahoma Tornado Project teamed up with <a href="http://oklahomawatch.org">Oklahoma Watch</a> to track where all the money went.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Following huge disasters, there’s always a potential for things to go wrong. In New Orleans, former mayor Ray&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Nagin</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for</span><a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/07/10/330325030/ex-new-orleans-mayor-ray-nagin-sentenced-in-corruption-case" style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;taking bribes</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;from contractors rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. And in New Jersey, there’s been&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/01/questions_raised_about_christies_use_of_sandy_funds_to_build_complex_in_town_where_mayor_endorsed_hi.html" style="line-height: 1.5;">criticism</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;that some Sandy aid money has gone to less needy areas.</span></p><p>So we wanted to look into Oklahoma’s post-storm recovery. State&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ok.gov/oem/">Department of Emergency Management&nbsp;</a>Director Albert&nbsp;Ashwood&nbsp;– who has worked closely with FEMA – says outright fraud is less common than it used to be.&nbsp;</p><p> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:30:16 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 9602 at http://tornado.kgou.org Following Oklahoma's 2013 Tornadoes, Where Does Federal Aid Really Go? Take Shelter Oklahoma Launches New Initiative Petition http://tornado.kgou.org/post/take-shelter-oklahoma-launches-new-initiative-petition <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A group that wants to install a tornado shelter in every public school in Oklahoma spent the holiday weekend gathering signatures to get its initiative petition on an upcoming ballot.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">This isn’t&nbsp;</span><a href="http://takeshelterok.com" style="line-height: 1.5;">Take Shelter Oklahoma</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">’s first attempt to collect 155,000 signatures, but the group is giving it another shot.&nbsp;</span></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:30:00 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 9359 at http://tornado.kgou.org Take Shelter Oklahoma Launches New Initiative Petition Group Hires Ex-Convicts To Rebuild Oklahoma After 2013 Tornadoes http://tornado.kgou.org/post/group-hires-ex-convicts-rebuild-oklahoma-after-2013-tornadoes <p>Oklahoma has one of the <a href="http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/maps/visualized-oklahoma-is-a-leader-in-locking-people-up/">highest incarceration rates </a>in the country. Each year, the state releases roughly 8,000 people from prison, and many of them are looking for work. One organization now hires ex-offenders to help rebuild and restore tornado-struck towns.&nbsp;</p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:30:00 +0000 Kate Carlton Greer 9145 at http://tornado.kgou.org Group Hires Ex-Convicts To Rebuild Oklahoma After 2013 Tornadoes