Claremore Daily Progress

State/Nation

May 28, 2013

Partisan politics take back seat after disaster

(Continued)

MOORE —

Today, he is expected to visit New Jersey to tour the progress of recovery along the coast affected by Hurricane Sandy last year.
Like Fallin, New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, is a Republican, but party differences fall by the wayside when tragedy strikes, especially if federal aid is involved.
When Obama visited Oklahoma for the first time last year, Fallin was unavailable. That left Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett as the top Oklahoma elected official to greet Obama following his arrival at Tinker Air Force Base on March 21, 2012. The president visited Cushing as part of an energy tour that year.
Four months later, Fallin was outraged when a disaster declaration was denied after the July 28 through Aug. 14 wildfires killed a Cleveland County woman and destroyed 270 homes in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties.
The tornado in Moore changed everything.
Sunday, it was all smiles and hugs between Fallin and Obama. The presidential disaster declaration came quickly on the heels of the tornado’s devastation, with Obama responding Monday evening following the afternoon’s deadly storm.
Oklahoma will not rely solely on federal funds for tornado recovery. Five days ago, the state Senate voted to take $45 million out of the state’s $600 million Rainy Day fund for immediate tornado disaster relief.
Following the vote, Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, said each dollar the state spends in disaster aid will be matched by $3 from the federal government.
During his visit, the President thanked first responders at Moore’s Fire Station No. 1 that has served as a command center for disaster recovery following the tornado. He also visited privately with parents of the Plaza Towers children who died.
The heroic actions of Moore’s teachers are well documented, but many questions remain unanswered about school safety during severe storms. The deaths at Plaza Towers were reportedly children who were crouched down, taking cover in a hallway.

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