By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Help is on the way to Canadian County and its cities and towns impacted by a devastating pre-winter ice storm.
President Trump delivered an early Christmas gift on Dec. 21 when he signed a federal declaration approving the State of Oklahoma’s request for disaster assistance for 13 counties.
“Canadian County is within those 13 counties that have been approved,” Canadian County Emergency Management Director Andrew Skidmore said. “I called everybody and told them ‘Christmas came early’. We’ve all been waiting on this and it finally came through.”
The federal government’s official disaster declaration delivers public assistance to municipalities, counties, tribes, and rural electric cooperatives for debris removal, infrastructure repairs and other costs associated with responding to the ice storm that began Oct. 26.
The multi-day storm system produced up to two inches of ice in some areas and left hundreds of thousands without power.
The storm resulted in an estimated $27 million in debris removal and other damages in the 13 counties covered in the federal disaster declaration.
APPLYING FOR AID
Skidmore will help emergency managers from local government entities in Canadian County through the process of applying for federal disaster aid reimbursement.
“El Reno just spent over $1 million on debris clean-up with the company Ceres and OEMA (Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority),” he noted. “They have a large debris pile out at the ATV track at Lake El Reno. They’re going to be able to be reimbursed for what they’ve spent.
“Same with the other municipal entities in Canadian County.”
The City of Yukon used a contractor, Arbor Masters Tree Service, for help with storm debris removal at an estimated cost of $700,000. Yukon rented a large tub grinder to mulch the copious quantity of limbs at the city’s collection site near Highway 66 and Frisco Road.
The other 12 counties in the Dec. 21st federal disaster declaration are: Caddo, Cleveland, Dewey, Grady, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Logan, Noble, Oklahoma, Payne, Pottawatomie, and Roger Mills.
“I am grateful to President Trump and his administration for getting this important assistance across the finish line to help Oklahomans,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said. “This funding will help us continue to recover from an historic winter storm.”
Following the governor’s disaster declaration request last month, the State of Oklahoma has continued to document damages and will submit a request to add 16 additional counties to the declaration.