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Stitt Requests, White House Approves Federal Disaster Declaration For Weather Recovery

Gov. Kevin Stitt
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt participates in a conference call with six other governors and President Joe Biden regarding federal assistance in dealing with historic winter weather on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

This story was updated at 9:00 a.m. to reflect that the White House has approved Gov. Stitt's disaster declaration request.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Wednesday that he is asking President Joe Biden for a federal disaster declaration due to a winter storm that dumped snow and ice on the state and brought days of subfreezing temperatures and power outages.

Stitt’s disaster declaration request for all 77 Oklahoma counties came a day after the governor spoke with Biden by phone.

“President Biden pledged the federal government’s support for Oklahoma when we spoke by phone,” Stitt said. “I am now urging the president and his administration to act quickly and deliver on our request to help Oklahomans recover from this historic storm.”

Stitt declared a statewide emergency last Friday as the winter storm was approaching the state, shortly before leaving the state for a weekend ski vacation.

Stitt’s request would provide federal funding to reimburse cities, counties and tribes for the costs of emergency measures responding to the storm, including providing shelter for displaced residents.

The White House issued a news release Thursday morning saying the request had been approved. 

"Yesterday, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that an emergency exists in the State of Oklahoma and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from a severe winter storm beginning on February 8, 2021, and continuing," the statement reads.

 "The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 77 Oklahoma counties."

The governor's office confirmed the action from the White House fulfilled Stitt's request.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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