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Oklahoma tornado: Denial of federal disaster aid will add to toll of Woodward cleanup

Authorities said workers are worn out after a week of cleanup following Sunday's tornado in Woodward.
BY BRYAN DEAN Published: April 21, 2012

Emergency workers, residents and volunteers are tired after a week of cleanup following Sunday's tornado, but financial help and manpower could be on the way soon, authorities said.

The White House on Friday denied Gov. Mary Fallin's request for assistance to aid individuals and businesses in Woodward County that were hit hard.

“Having toured the damage in Woodward, I know firsthand how devastating last week's tornado was to this community,” Fallin said. “This was a disaster that killed six people and destroyed numerous homes and businesses. It is appropriate and necessary for the federal government to provide the disaster assistance that exists exactly for situations like this one.”

While disappointed, Fallin said the state is continuing to work to bring assistance to those affected by the storm.

She announced that the state will now request a disaster declaration for Woodward County through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

If approved, an SBA declaration would deliver low-interest disaster loans for renters, homeowners and business owners to repair or replace any property damaged by the tornado and severe weather which was not covered by insurance or other assistance programs. The loan program also would be available to assist businesses that suffered economic injury because of the storms. If the request is approved, under SBA rules, the assistance also would be available in counties contiguous to Woodward County.

Meanwhile, Matt Lehenbauer, Woodward emergency management director, said cleanup is taking a physical toll on those involved. His wife, Conyetta Lehenbauer, was treated for dehydration and a back injury this week after helping with the cleanup.

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