On fire aid, Oklahoma faces waiting game

BY JOHNNY JOHNSON Modified: April 15, 2009 at 4:50 am •  Published: April 15, 2009

photo - Sisters Sara, 3, and Cheyann Ford, 5, play Tuesday on a wooden swing set that escaped last week’s flames. The girls were visiting their grandmother, who lives next door to the burned house in the background.  FEMA officials toured neighborhoods devastated in Thursday’s wildfires. PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
Sisters Sara, 3, and Cheyann Ford, 5, play Tuesday on a wooden swing set that escaped last week’s flames. The girls were visiting their grandmother, who lives next door to the burned house in the background. FEMA officials toured neighborhoods devastated in Thursday’s wildfires. PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
MIDWEST CITY — All 12 houses that burned last week in Midwest City were insured, so federal wildfire aid to individual homeowners likely will hinge on uninsured damages in other areas, state and federal officials said Tuesday.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials completed tours in wildfire-stricken Midwest City and Choctaw on Tuesday. Only four of the 58 homes that burned in Choctaw were uninsured, Choctaw City Manager Robert Floyd said.

Damage assessment teams are to complete their work across eight counties today. The report will dictate whether Gov. Brad Henry asks the president for federal assistance.

"Keep in mind that we are looking for both noninsured and underinsured,” state Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten said.

"In other words: Do you have enough insurance to meet the actual damages you have?”

With not much to salvage at the houses that burned to the ground, assessment teams did not run across many homeowners Tuesday. But Ooten said it is not imperative that they talk to everyone.


Here’s a look at the top 10 states for wildfires in 2008 with the number of acres scorched:

1. Texas

16,713 fires

1,570,586 acres

2. California

5,812 fires

1,339,839 acres

3. Oklahoma

5,572 fires

196,563 acres

4. Georgia

5,454 fires

23,081 acres

5. North Carolina

4,414 fires

95,938 acres

6. Alabama

3,103 fires

32,447 acres

7. Florida

2,939 fires

156,102 acres

8. South Carolina

2,626 fires

15,751 acres

9. Mississippi

1,898 fires

27,399 acres

10. Arizona

1,850 fires

85,496 acres

Sources: National Interagency Coordination Center and the Insurance Information Institute

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