A day after severe storms and tornadoes struck much of the state, Gov. Brad Henry today declared a state of emergency in 56 Oklahoma counties.
"Lives and property have been lost, and our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are suffering because of these storms," Henry said. "As usual, the response of emergency management officials and first responders has been exemplary and we are ready to do whatever it takes to help victims of these storms rebuild and recover."
The governor is scheduled to fly over some of the hardest-hit areas in central Oklahoma and visit with emergency workers on the ground. So far, seven storm-related deaths have been reported. Dozens of homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Today's executive order is the first step toward seeking federal assistance.
The state Emergency Management Department officials also are making preliminary damage assessments to determine the damage caused by Monday's storms.
The counties included in the state of emergency are: Alfalfa, Atoka, Beaver, Blaine, Bryan, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cleveland, Coal, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Harper, Haskell, Hughes, Jefferson, Johnston, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Marshall, Mayes, McIntosh, McClain, Murray, Muskogee, Noble, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Seminole, Sequoyah, Stephens, Tillman, Tulsa, Washita and Woodward.
Other counties may be added to the declaration as conditions warrant.
Henry also issued a second executive order which exempts trucks that are providing direct assistance for the restoration of essential services from weight and permit requirements. That executive order will aid utility companies and municipalities as they attempt to repair infrastructure and restore services to customer and residents.