By Mindy Ragan Wood
Canadian County Emergency Management with area city officials met with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Tuesday in El Reno to discuss the damage caused by recent floods and tornadoes.
President Donald Trump granted federal assistance to seven more counties on June 8 including Canadian County and assistance may be coming soon to Kingfisher County. FEMA visited Kingfisher County Wednesday, but no word was available on the damage assessment there.
FEMA is wasting no time getting the word out to affected victims in Canadian County and has set up meetings to register for assistance in addition to online or by phone registrations. On Friday at Lake El Reno, booths for registration will be available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with OKC Thunder as entertainment.
“If you had a structure that’s been damaged, a house or a car or something like that, assistance is available now,” said Canadian County Emergency Management Director Andrew Skidmore. “We don’t have infrastructure yet, so roads and bridges, we can’t do that yet because we haven’t met the threshold.”
Canadian and Kingfisher County Commissioners are scrambling to keep roads passable. Commissioners describe making repairs as effective as shoveling snow in a snowstorm.
“As soon as we get a road repaired, we get more rain,” Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader said.
In Kingfisher County, Commissioner Heath Dobrovolny doesn’t have the luxury to begin repairs.
“We’re just working to make the roads passable,” Dobrovolny said. “Every week it keeps growing. I have 88 different roads that have some kind of issues, whether it’s pipes uncovered, or washed away. Four bridges are heavily affected and I have one left closed. They’re (roads and bridges) at least passable. The biggest problem that keeps popping up is there are marginal roads to begin with, just semi-improved, and with the oil field traffic and incessant rain, it creates what I call bomb craters. We’re scrambling to fill those in to make roads passable.”
Hader said there are at least 50 structures affected in his district between roads, culverts and bridges and the list will grow. Major projects for infrastructure improvements have been placed on hold.