Treat: Oklahoma Legislature ‘stands ready’ to help in Tulsa’s storm recovery
Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat — who's been thrust into a temporary role as acting governor — says the legislature is ready to help Tulsa recover from a severe storm last weekend that left widespread damage and power outages in the city.
The severe storm tore through the city over the weekend and knocked out power for 160,000 electrical customers in the immediate aftermath. Tulsa Area Emergency Management Director Joe Kralicek told city councilors on Wednesday that the storm was comparable to a hurricane.
At a news conference at Tulsa City Hall Wednesday, Treat said the state legislature "stands ready to help in any way going forward."
"I will tell you as the leader of the Senate, in that capacity, we stand ready to appropriate whatever money is necessary to be able to expedite the recovery," Treat said.
Treat specifically said he could see if more money was needed in the state emergency management fund to give matching grants to the city. He mentioned the legislature is currently considering budget-related matters in its special session.
Treat visited Tulsa on Wednesday as acting governor. Gov. Kevin Stitt and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell are both out of the state and Treat is third in line in succession.
In a statement, Treat’s office said he signed an emergency declaration for Tulsa County about an hour after being told he was acting governor, and within 20 minutes of reviewing pertinent documents.
Pinnell said Monday evening that an emergency declaration had not been given because local emergency management officials and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management were still working. Kralicek said he had submitted documentation to the state on Monday and officials with the governor's office told him they would try to finalize the declaration by the end of business hours that day.
Attorney General Gentner Drummond called for the legislature to consider measures that would improve communication in similar situations. Treat said he supports Drummond's request.
"It’s just been the tradition and practice to be notified by the governor and lieutenant governor. We need to double down on that, because that’s not been happening this past year," Treat said.
Public Radio Tulsa has reached out to Stitt's office for comment on the matter.