OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) today announced that an Oklahoma shelter operations team is preparing to deploy to Shreveport, Louisiana, to manage two shelters for evacuees who have been displaced by Tropical Storm Harvey.
Fallin offered assistance to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. His emergency management officials contacted OEM requesting the shelter operation mission as widespread, historic rainfall continues to impact the Gulf Coast. The shelters are planned to open later this week and will accommodate 3,500 to 5,000 people.
Approximately 125 Oklahoma personnel will manage the shelter operations, including staff from OEM; Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; Oklahoma Forestry Services Division; Oklahoma Highway Patrol; Oklahoma National Guard; Oklahoma State Health Department; and numerous local emergency management departments.
In addition to the shelter deployment to Louisiana, six more swift water rescue teams deployed to Texas today to support the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) with water rescues as the state continues to respond to devastating flooding. Teams responding today are Bartlesville Fire Department Swift Water Team; Cherokee County Swift Water Team; Cherokee Nation Swift Water Team; Craig County Swift Water Team; Guymon Fire Swift Water Team; Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; and Wagoner County Swift Water Team.
Including teams that deployed Monday, there are now 20 water rescue teams from Oklahoma responding in Texas.
The Oklahoma National Guard is responding to another request from the Texas Military Department to send personnel and equipment to support medical evacuations from southeast Texas.
“Oklahomans know how to respond because we've experienced these kind of tragedies, though not on this scale,” said Fallin. “Our soldiers and first responders are trained and ready to provide assistance to those impacted by Tropical Storm Harvey. I ask Oklahomans to keep them and the victims of this powerful storm in their thoughts and prayers.”
OEM Director Albert Ashwood said, “Oklahoma has been the recipient of support from neighboring states in the past, and we will do whatever we can now to return the favor and help the Gulf Coast.”
To support the continuing deployments to Texas and Louisiana, Fallin declared a state of emergency for Oklahoma so that state, county and local governments can adequately respond to the mutual aid requests and needs of the Gulf Coast states. Under the executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions.
Oklahoma officials also remind the public that the most effective way to support disaster survivors in their recovery is through cash donations to trusted, reputable voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations, which offer the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.