Oklahoma Lawmakers Host Emergency Management Conference

Article excerpt

Representatives from local, state and federal emergency management systems brought their concerns to the state Capitol Friday for a meeting sponsored by four members of the House of Representatives.

The event, state Rep. Joe Dorman said, was held to ensure a coordinated response to natural disasters.

"Here in Oklahoma we always have a natural disaster just around the corner," said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. "The conference brings the federal, state, and local components of emergency response together in the same room to ensure that they get to know one another and can coordinate their efforts when the next ice storm or tornado or wildfire hits."

Republican state Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Goodwell, said a coordinated response is the key to the public safety of rural communities.

"I think this conference was an opportunity to narrow response times and improve recovery efforts," Blackwell said. "Ultimately, that means greater safety and less hardship for those Oklahomans affected by natural disasters."

The meeting also focused attention on the state's inability to adequately cover the cost of cleaning up natural disasters. Despite the fact federal funds cover the costs of 75 percent of the cleanup from a disaster, Oklahoma still owes several million dollars in reimbursements to many state communities for its share of the cleanup. …

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