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Emergency Management Department's job is year-round effort

The most recent lengthy activation of the Emergency Management Operations Center in Oklahoma was after the severe storms that started on May 19, 2013. They were activated for 10 days at that time, returned to normal staffing and then activated again May 31.
by Bryan Painter Published: March 9, 2014
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Q: Please talk about the magnitude of the storms that spanned not only the Oklahoma City metro area, but many areas of Oklahoma.

A: The May tornadoes, flooding, straight-line winds and severe storms were widespread and devastating to numerous communities. We are fortunate in Oklahoma to have amazing first responders across the state as well as dedicated emergency managers who worked very hard to get assistance to cities and counties through not only state and federal resources, but also through voluntary agencies such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Baptist Disaster Relief and others.

Q: Did this more-on-than-off cycle of storms from May 19 to May 31 pose any unique challenges for your office? How did your office respond?

A: Unfortunately, in Oklahoma we can have disasters any time of year, so our staff is well practiced. Whether it’s wildfires, ice storms, the devastating tornadoes we saw in May or any other type of disaster requiring extended activation, our staff is prepared to work the extra days and hours as long as we need to in order to support the local cities and counties impacted.

Q: Is your office still responding to the storms of last May?

A: Yes, this disaster is still ongoing. OEM staff continues to work with FEMA as well as supporting the long-term recovery groups that are still very active in the impacted communities. Infraestructure projects and others can take months or even years to complete, so OEM continues to work with local governments as they work through those processes. Additionally, long-term recovery committees can stay active as long as they are still needed, so our staff will continue to provide any support we can.

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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