State of Emergency Declared for 10 Oklahoma Counties

KTUL - June 22, 2023 6:42 am

On Tuesday, June 20, Governor Kevin Stitt called on the Oklahoma Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat to sign Executive Order 2023-18 for a State of Emergency for ten Oklahoma counties.

Pro Tem Treat signed the declaration shortly after Stitt called for him to do so.

The Pro Tem is also now the acting governor, as Stitt and Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell are both out of state.

“I personally witnessed the damage and devastation of the storms as I drove back to Oklahoma City from Catoosa yesterday,” Pro Tem Treat said. “It was clear that people in eastern Oklahoma are struggling and need all the support the state can give them during this time. Impacted Oklahomans are still without power and heat indexes are exceeding triple digits. This action will relax laws and regulations on the shipping of goods for emergency use, allow agencies to have more purchasing powers, among other measures in order to bring much needed relief. It also automatically triggers the state’s price gouging statute that way Oklahomans aren’t being taken advantage of by individuals who are trying to charge more than necessary for goods and services. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with our neighbors as they continue to recover after this storm.”

The counties include Creek, Delaware, Harper, Mayes, Pawnee, Payne, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner, and Choctaw.

This order comes after severe storms tore through Oklahoma over the weekend leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

“My heart goes out to the Oklahomans impacted by last weekend’s severe weather, and the many people still overcoming the aftermath of those storms,” said Governor Stitt. “The State, including the Oklahoma Department Emergency Management and Homeland Security continues to be responsive through emergency declarations, waivers, and requests to impacted areas to restore power, protect critical infrastructure and to get Oklahomans the resources they need during these trying times. I am thankful for our emergency response teams and power crews who are working tirelessly to restore utilities in the affected areas.”

The State is fielding requests from local jurisdictions for power generation for water and waste treatment plants. At this time, the State has met all requested generation needs.

About 150,000 outages remain compared to the original number of 350,000.

The State is working with local gas companies to hopefully allow Oklahoma a stable gas supply.

“I want to thank the State for declaring a state of emergency in Tulsa as our city continues to grip with the aftermath of the June 18 storm,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. “With this declaration, Tulsa will be able to further assist our residents with this disaster and align resources to seek federal reimbursement. I want to thank my fellow Tulsans for your perseverance and resilience during this trying time in our city.”

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security praises this decision.

“This State of Emergency will be key in the coming days as we continue to work with our emergency management partners across the state and at FEMA to identify damages in the impacted areas and determine whether aid may be available to assist communities,” said ODEMHS Director Mark Gower. “We’re grateful to all the responders, power crews, emergency managers, voluntary agencies, and others who have stepped up yet again to help Oklahomans.”

The Executive Order will remain in effect for 30 days.

Because of this State of Emergency, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced a price gouging statute for Eastern Oklahoma.

The statute also calls for the reform of emergency response procedures.

“As a result of this declaration of emergency, Oklahoma can act proactively to protect consumers instead of simply waiting for them to be scammed by unscrupulous actors,” Drummond said. “I greatly appreciate the leadership of Acting Gov. Treat, coordinating with the professional staff members of the Governor’s office, to ensure Oklahoma consumers receive the greatest possible protection.”

Drummond is displeased with how long it has taken for the state to declare an emergency.

“While I understand there are many measures the Governor can employ in times like these when out of the state, an emergency declaration can only be issued by a Governor who is physically within the state of Oklahoma,” Drummond said. “However, there is no requirement for the Governor to notify the Lieutenant Governor when traveling out of the state. There is similarly not a requirement for the Lieutenant Governor to notify the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, or on down the line of succession. We have seen the unnecessary delay and confusion this creates, all at the expense of Oklahomans struggling to cope with emergency circumstances.”

He believes simple law changes could help prevent this in the future.

“My fellow Oklahomans in the Tulsa area have been suffering a great deal and deserve the utmost focus and attention in times like these,” Drummond said. “I hope the Governor and Legislature will work to ensure Oklahoma families and businesses don’t experience similar delays when future disaster strikes.”


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