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State, local crews conduct preliminary damage assessments in Mayes County

Posted at 5:38 PM, May 31, 2024

PRYOR, Okla. — A Preliminary damage assessment is underway in Mayes County. Emergency management officials with the state and county went door to door to label how badly each home was hit.

About 70 homeowners have reported some damage to their homes. Mayes County Emergency Management Deputy Director Michael Dunham said these reports play a critical role in getting federal assistance to the people most impacted by the May 25th tornado.

“We’re trying to get a dollar figure with the amount of damage that has been caused by this tornado,” said Dunham. “Right now, we’re really pushing for FEMA individual assistance is what were going for. We’re also looking at the public assistance side.”

Annie Vest, State Director of Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, was also on the ground.

It’s her goal to get financial support to these residents as quickly as possible.

Labeling each property’s damage accurately, she said, can make all the difference in getting dollars to homeowners.

“For criteria we have ‘destroyed,’ ‘major,’ ‘minor’ and ‘effected’ and every property matters,” said Vest. ““Earlier, we were on a property for example that originally would have said to be minor damage, and we were able to work with the county to suggest to FEMA that it’s actually a destroyed property.”

In Vest’s experience, requests for federal assistance are most likely to be approved when about 300 structures are reportedly damaged.

Being such a busy storm season, this request will cover May 19 though May 25. That puts reports to just over 700 damaged properties, as of May 31.

“Two different programs that were looking at,” said Vest. “Individual assistance goes to the survivors, the property owners directly. Public assistance goes back into these communities, so they can repair and make sure that they have good sustainable communities for those survivors to remain living in.”

While some homeowners already reported how the storm impacted them, some Mayes County residents may not have the bandwidth to let officials know just how devastated they are.

“We’re still asking the public to go damage.ok.gov to go and register those, we don’t care what the damage is, if it’s shingles to the roof or the house is a total loss,” said Dunham. “We’re struggling on getting some of those people to register with us due to lack of power, cell service, access to computers. They’re getting back to that, everyone does have power back to this area that can receive it, but some of these people are still trying to clean up and haven’t had enough time to stop.”

No matter how small, all residents are asked to report their damage online. If you are unable to access the website, the next course of action is to call your county emergency management team.


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