Muskogee and surrounding counties will see some relief from the federal government in paying for emergency response efforts after President Bush approved Gov. Brad Henry’s emergency declaration.

Muskogee County Emergency Management Director Eugene Blankenship said under the relief granted, the county will receive $75 for every $25 the county spends in its response efforts.

County Commissioner Gene Wallace, District 1, said while that is good news, the situation is disheartening.

“We have a large area still without power and telephone service,” Wallace said. “We have individuals who have been in their homes now for three days without power.”

Wallace said while the storm has passed, the county remains in emergency response mode, trying to get people to shelters in anticipation of falling temperatures that could hit single digits.

The cleanup efforts will be massive, he said.

“We thought the 2000 storm was disastrous,” Wallace said. “I think, based upon what we have seen, the damage this time around is going to exceed that.”

Wallace said as temperatures plunge overnight, residents could see water lines break and further damage to the infrastructure.

“We are worried about the geophysical aspects of the roads with a deep freeze,” Wallace said. “How those surfaces are going to hold up has yet to be seen.”

“We’re a long way from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

In an effort to provide area residents with a place to seek relief from the cold, emergency response agencies opened eight shelters in Muskogee County to serve area residents affected by widespread power outages caused the weekend’s dangerous winter storm.

Muskogee County Emergency Management Director Eugene Blankenship said shelters have been opened at the following locations:

• Muskogee Recreation Center.

• Warner Assembly of God Church.

• Braggs American Legion.

• Webbers Falls City Hall.

• Oktaha Trinity Baptist Church.

• Keefeton Fire Station.

• Porum Old Gymnasium (pending).

• Fort Gibson United Methodist Church.

• Haskell Fire Station.

“There are people who have been without power since Friday,” Blankenship said. “We’re setting up these additional shelters so people around the county will have a place to get out of the cold and get a hot meal.”

Seeking shelter?

For additional information about shelter locations or for assistance getting to a shelter, call the Muskogee County Emergency Management Agency at 682-2551.

Reach D.E. Smoot at 918-684-2903 or Click Here to Send Email

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