The Moore American

September 4, 2013

Housing and Urban Development gives Oklahoma nearly $37 million for storm recovery

By Joy Hampton
The Moore American

MOORE — Moore received a special $26.3 million grant Friday from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. An additional grant of $10.3 million will go to the state for tornado recovery in other affected areas. The aid comes from the Community Development Block Grant Program.

“It’s an amazing sum of money,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore. “I’m extremely glad to see the money used in this way.”

HUD Regional Administrator Tammye Trevino formally presented the money at a press conference at Moore City Hall Friday morning. Cole, Gov. Mary Fallin and state Reps. Mark McBride and Anthony Sykes were among the dignitaries present. The group toured the tornado affected area afterwards to view the recovery and rebuilding.

“What’s important about this funding is that it’s not your typical HUD money,” Trevino said. “There are fewer strings attached ... It’s going to be groundbreaking for all of you.”

Fallin said the mayor had vowed the city would be cleaned up in three months and he has kept his word. The city reports that 95 percent — over 172,000 tons — of debris has been removed. Lewis said a lot of that was recycled. Many businesses have reopened and new businesses are opening as well.

“This community is back on its feet,” Fallin said of the rebuilding already occurring.

The May 20 tornado destroyed 1,038 houses. Moore has issued 176 new building permits, and 365 remodeling permits are in the works. Lewis said the city has made a “good start” toward recovery.

Fallin said Moore has been an example of strength through adversity as have all of the communities hit by tornadoes this spring.

“We inspired many other states,” Fallin said. “We inspired the United States. We inspired the world.”

Cole said the money received from HUD will help make a difference, particularly for those who were uninsured or under insured.

“We’re so impressed with everything that the mayor and the governor and the state have done,” Trevino said. “It is your strength and your resilience that we’re all going to take strength from.”

Lewis said Moore set up a 13-person committee to determine how the money should best be used.

“We’re going to use this money to develop the town and to redevelop it,” Lewis said.

Input from Moore residents will be a key part of the recovery dialogue and the resulting decisions.

“Today’s HUD announcement of additional relief funding is one that brings hope to thousands of Oklahomans whose homes and businesses were destroyed by the horrific tornadoes in May,” Cole said. “While there were numerous communities affected, my hometown of Moore saw the most widespread damage and the rebuilding efforts ahead are understandably more challenging there.”

Joy Hampton 366-3544