Governor declares state of emergency in 24 flooded counties

Oklahoma City (AP) _ Monday, Governor Brad Henry, accompanied by Lt. Governor Jari Askins and Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management executive director Albert Ashwood toured Central Oklahoma.  He has declared a state of emergency in 24 counties hit during the weekend by the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin.  The storm brought strong winds and flooding to central and southwestern Oklahoma and is blamed for at least six deaths.

The survey included an aerial tour of damages in a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter and a ground tour in Kingfisher.  "The resilience of Oklahomans is truly amazing," Gov. Henry said.  "Business owners ae already mopping up the mess, and neighbors are helping one another in an effort to clean up the community and begin the process of recovery."

From Kingfisher, the governor and lieutenant governor made a stop at the Watonga airport and in Ft. Cobb to speak to local officials.  Along the way, the governor got an aerial view of a Geary nursing home which suffered extensive storm damage.

"I cannot stress enough the fantastic job first responders have done in the wake of these storms.  There is no doubt that lives were saved by their tireless efforts," Gov. Henry said.  "The damage in some communities is immense, but Oklahomans are no strangers to adversity and I know these communities will pull together to clean up and rebuild while comforting those who hae suffered losses."

The governor says the disaster declaration is the first step toward asking for federal assistance in recovering from the storm.  The state department of emergency management is in the process of assessing the damage to determine the cost of recovery.

Counties included in the state of emergency are: Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Custer and Dewey.  Also Grady, Jefferson, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Stephens, and Washita.

Henry says more counties will be added as needed.