Local & Regional
3:17 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

FEMA on Site of Creek County Fire

FEMA is on the scene in Creek County. Four teams are in Oklahoma today inspecting wildfire damage. The team in Creek County began its tour of the damage on State Highway 48.

“What the assessment teams do is take down the address of every home, structure, living dwelling that was affected or destroyed by the fire,” said Ray Perez, FEMA spokesman. “We basically have to document every single property that was damaged or destroyed by the fire.”

He says it will likely take a few days to cover the almost 60,000 acres of burned land, especially since most of the area is rural.

“This is not an urban settingwhere you mgiht have a hundred home on three blocks,” he said. “Here we actually have to go to every property.

He says one of the most important factors FEMA will look at is the amount of destroyed property that was un- or under-insured.

Jerry Lojka is a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency management, which also has representatives serving as part of the assessment team.

“All of that information,” he said, referring to what the assessment teams collect, “will be compiled (and) sent to the Governor’s office. It is evaluated and compiled there in a … format that FEMA requres it. Then it’s sent up to the federal level. They review it, and if a disaster declaration is issued, that comes from the President’s office.”

He says that process will likely take a few weeks. If a federal disaster is declared, FEMA will return to set up field offices.

“If you had an affected property, then you can go to that, fill out whatever paperwork is there,” he said. “Sometimes, they are given assitance on the spot. Other times, they will have to wait for review.”

He says for any victims, the first step is to contact your insurance company if you haven’t already.

“The level of protection they have, whether they’re insured or underinsured,” he says, will determine, “the amount of assitance they’re going to get from the federal government.”