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Oklahoma tornado damage slamming cities' budgets

The lasting impact of the May 24 tornadoes is reaching into the not-so-deep coffers of municipal budgets.
BY BRANDON GOODWIN AND ANN KELLEY Published: June 8, 2011
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The May 24 tornadoes caused $200 million to $300 million in insured losses to private property, insurance officials report.

The total covers all areas of Oklahoma hit by tornadoes, including the six counties that President Barack Obama declared major disaster areas Monday. Those include parts of Logan, Canadian, Grady, Delaware, Kingfisher and McClain counties.

Keli Cain, spokeswoman for the state emergency management office, said state officials are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency this week on getting assistance for the state and local governments burdened with cleanup costs from the disaster.

FEMA will pay up to 75 percent of the cleanup of public areas like roads, bridges and parks, she said.

Piedmont City Manager Clark Williams said cleanup efforts by the city have been limited because there is no money in the budget for it.

“This is way beyond our scope, but we are doing the best we can,” Williams said.

In Guthrie, the city's cleanup efforts are winding down.

City Manager Matthew Mueller said the city has shut down its debris drop-off sites, but the city continues to offer assistance to residents with heavy property damage.

Seeking aid

Mueller said he hopes to receive federal aid to repair some of the worst damage to city property, including the public works department and animal shelter.

Canadian County Commissioner Jack Stewart said his crews will spend the summer clearing tree debris, instead of repairing roads. He said they will haul off tree limbs stacked close to the road, but can't go onto private property.

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