May 21st, 2013
09:59 AM ET
11 months ago

Sen. Inhofe: 'This thing was huge'

(CNN) – Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said Tuesday morning there was "still a lot of uncertainty" in the aftermath of the disastrous tornado that barreled through Moore, Oklahoma.

But one thing he knows for sure is the area has a long way to go in terms of recovery and emphasized a need to raise a lot of money in the wake of the storm.

"This thing was huge. This is one of the largest ones we had," the Republican senator said on CNN's "Starting Point."

Inhofe pointed to the devastating 1999 tornado that struck the Oklahoma City area, which still ranks as one of the 10 costliest tornadoes in the U.S. since 1950 and caused $1.3 billion in damage. The May EF5 twister killed 36 people and smashed some of the same communities as Monday's tornado.

Officials have initially confirmed that 51 people–including 20 children–were killed in Monday's storm.

Having lived in Oklahoma since he was a child, Inhofe is no stranger to tornadoes, but he said Monday's storm was "so much worse" because of its size and scope.

"I don't know many people who have been raised in Oklahoma who haven't actually been in a tornado one time or another," he said.

President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration late Monday night, making available federal funds for the area. Asked what kind of assistance the state needs, Inhofe told CNN's John Berman they "have everything that [they] need" in terms of immediate recovery efforts.

"We have individual assistance, we have public assistance so that came immediately," he said. "I know [Governor] Mary Fallin was in contact with the president, so that's behind us now, that kind of assistance.

"But there are little things you can could do," the fiscal conservative said. "The Salvation Army and the Red Cross have a number where you can make small contributions. It's going to be necessary to raise a lot of money. We had to do this in 1999."

Inhofe, along with fellow Republican Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, voted against the Senate bill earlier this year appropriating massive federal funds for disaster relief after Superstorm Sandy.

Inhofe said after the 1999 storm, more people in Oklahoma built storm shelters and basement safe areas–which can be incredibly expensive in Oklahoma. But Inhofe said those decisions saved lives.

"There would have been a lot more people killed we believe if they had not had that warning some 14 years ago," he said.


Filed under: Jim Inhofe • Oklahoma
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Tony in Maine

    It's time for Inhofe and Coburn to join with the rest of the country. We are not a mean spirited bunch. When our neighbor is hungry we take food from our own table to help, we don't go looking for an old person or a child to steal from.

    Those two from OK should be voted out of office at the first opportunity.

    May 21, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. Thomas

    Was Sen. James Inhofe in Oklahoma at the time , or was he eating dinner near K Street with lobbyist friends ?

    nhofe: Tornado aid ‘totally different’ from Hurricane Sandy aid ?

    Why is it different Jimbo ?

    May 21, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. California Gary

    That's cool Dominican mama........we all hit the wrong key once in awhile........especially when we get emotional about an issue. It's the sentiment that counts, not the spelling........and your sentiment is right on the mark!

    May 21, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Can you say HYPOCRITE???
    -------------------------------------------------
    Why yes, yes I can. And spell it too! LOL!

    May 21, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. quinLee

    @Tom Paine
    I agree that it seems awkward and cruel to inject politics into this discussion at a time when so many are hurting and I truly wish the best for the Oklahoma victoms. HOWEVER, this very powerful storm (IMO God) is also sending another very powerful messege.

    May 21, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. Thomas

    @Ray E. (Georgia)
    My Wife and I will probably send some money to the Red Cross as we usually do. People will help as they usually do. Sad that the Liberal's have already spent the Nation into Oblivion with a nearly 17 Trillion dollar federal debt.
    =========

    Who put us in debt ?

    GW BUSH BABY , two wars , tax cuts for the wealthy .

    Who was one of GW's biggest supporters ?
    Sen. James Inhofe !

    May 21, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  7. TONY

    @JUSTSAYING
    Your answer to Dutch is exactly why red states are prone to natural disasters. reps in red states think that the EPA,or anything scientific is an enemy, and also think that they have better solutions to environmental issues so here we are picking up the pieces billions in damage. would you like to pay for the damages, and loss of life or the prevention. Your name should be changed to justsaynothing.

    May 21, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Deb in MT

    Of course, Sen. Inhofe–a fiscal hawk who voted (with his pal OK Sen. Coburn) to slash hurricane rielief aid to the Hurricane Sandy victims and who voted to cut spending to FEMA–will urge Oklahoma's governor to refuse all that federal money coming in for relief. Since Oklahoma gets back $1.30+ from the Feds for every $1.00 paid out in taxes, they should just pick themselves off and rebuild without all that 'socialistic' money.

    They won't–they can't because the damage is just too horrific–but note that Coburn is already trying to find budget offsets (aka: cutting programs for poor people in blue states) to offset the relief money.

    My snark aside: I'll gladly hope that some of my taxes can help out my fellow Americans in Oklahoma during this wretched time, despite the fact that they keep re-electing idiots like Inhofe and Coburn. This is what we do as Americans and as human beings: help each other, regardless of our politics.

    May 21, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. John in Brooklyn

    Not as big as Hurricane Sandy, Senator Inhofe. BUT we NY'ers WILL support emergency aid for your people nonetheless. Why? I guess it's our family values.

    May 21, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Guy

    After reading these comments from those of you on the left, I have come to the conclusion that you collectively are nothing more than miserable, petty people. Your life must really suck.

    May 21, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. On Streetwise

    Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said Tuesday morning there was "still a lot of uncertainty" ....

    But one thing is certain... Drill, Baby, DRILL... Twist, Baby, TWIST... Bring on that Tarsand Pipe soon.

    May 21, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. Peoples State of Illinois

    @Dominican mama 4 Obama and Dutch,

    Your responses are disappointing, but not unexpected. I don't care what you say about anyone from "my team." I did not politicize Sandy and do not think this disaster (or any other) should be politicized. Normally, I am just as partisan as you guys are. Just not today.

    May 21, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. The REAL Truth...

    @Donna – You just have to love how all the leftists in here attack people who simply what the government to act responsibly with their money. These people simply want the government to prioritize their spending. Obviously when these disasters happen aid should be provided. And it is not unfair or unreasonable to expect the government to scale back or cut its frog and cockroach research to provide the money to more important matters at hand. Leftists think we can just keep printing money endlessly to fund every lunatic project they can think of. Reality protrudes on that idiocy.
    ----------------------
    You just have to love the right wingers here attacking folks with doing any research before they rant.
    On the face of it, the right wants the Govt. to act responsibly with their money, as long as it's done THEIR WAY.
    In reality, they are FAR WORSE on spending than the left you are attacking.

    A little research will show you that the 3 largest Recessions of the last 100 yrs were preciptated by Republican administrations and fixed by Dem administrations. Just like it is now. The prior Republican regime DOUBLED the Nat'l Debt, gave away multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts, started 2 unfunded wars, added Medicare Part D (unfunded), lost 4.2 million jobs and initiated across-the-board tax cuts (in spite of being advised by top economists, not to do so). We are now PAYING for the failed policies under this administration, and the right is lashing out at the costs. REALLY? The very perpetrators of the problem are continually blaming the current administration for trying to fix the problems THEY created and doing all in their power to prevent it (blocking legislation with filibusters, etc.) Then there's all the red states who vote GOP that receive MORE in Fed Funds than they contribute, and that INCLUDES OK!

    I'm all for fiscal conservatism, the problemn is that at NO TIME in Federal Govt history has a GOP run administration EVER APPLIED THAT!!

    May 21, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. PaulCat

    Do you think Sen. Inhofe is going to accept federal help (money)? Or will he continue to think government is to big and they are on their own.

    You republican governors better listen.
    Somebody is trying to tell you something.

    May 21, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. A Kickin` Donkey

    Have we yet heard the callous words typically uttered by the likes of Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Laura Ingram, Michele Maulkin,etc.?

    You know what I mean, right? That this is God`s judgement on these people; that he is angry with them and their "sinful" ways; that they somehow brought this on themselves? Afterall, this is OKlahoma – the buckle of the "bible bet" so doesn`t everyone their believe that such devestation has nothing to do with climate change / global warming & everything to do with God?

    I truly hope this comeuppance humbles the arrogance that we typically have seen from "evangelicals" & and/or "conservatives" when others have suffered fates like these.

    May 21, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Peoples State of Illinois
    @Dominican mama 4 Obama and Dutch,

    Your responses are disappointing, but not unexpected. I don't care what you say about anyone from "my team." I did not politicize Sandy and do not think this disaster (or any other) should be politicized. Normally, I am just as partisan as you guys are. Just not today.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Sorry to disappoint, but me, Sniffit, DM4O, Lynda, The Real Truth, we have this big problem of stating FACTS!!!

    May 21, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Ray E. (Georgia) wrote:

    ...Sad that the Liberal's have already spent the Nation into Oblivion with a nearly 17 Trillion dollar federal debt. So when a real emergency happens the Debt only rises. ...
    ------------------------
    I guess you're ignoring the past decade and Reagans deficit spending. "Tax cuts pay for themselves." Sound familiar?

    May 21, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. yeahright

    Sad that the Liberal's have already spent the Nation into Oblivion with a nearly 17 Trillion dollar federal debt

    Ray-the world did not begin on January 20th 2009

    May 21, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  19. just sayin

    inLee
    HOWEVER, this very powerful storm (IMO God) is also sending another very powerful messege.
    ---–

    yes he is. the message is to build adequate storm shelters because you are living in tornado alley. sheltering in place in the hallway of an elementary school is not adequate shelter. they need to prepare better to protect the kids. this area seems especially prone to these tornadoes.

    May 21, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. Jules

    So Senator, I am assuming that there should be no disaster relief for OK based on your vote against disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy, right?

    May 21, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. California Gary

    The GOP mantra: Victims of Sandy? We ain't paying for that! Victims of Oklahoma? Pass the hat! What's the difference you may ask? It's the difference between red and blue.

    May 21, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Michael

    Yeahright. CHeck your facts. The GOP got us into this fiscal situation, not liberals. GOP members like to rewrite history. GOP got us into every war zone we are currently in, not liberals. Check your facts. Don't do a rewrite. Senators Inhofe and Coburn could care less about others. Typical GOP mindset.
    I am in Oklahoma and this situation here right now is just a nightmare. Just unbelievable destruction. The only thing good to come out of the 1988 and 2003 tornados in Moore is that 10,000 shelters were built so loss of life is not as bad as it could have been. Thanks to all who give the kind thoughts.

    May 21, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    It is reported that the destruction may be greater this time, but that is partly because of the rebuilding that went on after the 1999 tornado, which simply created more development that was destroyed by this current tornado. Otherwise, the 2 tornadoes were eerily similar.

    May 21, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Rhinestone Cowboy

    All you liberal trash do realize that the farms and ranches of Oklahoma feed all of you urban slum dwellers, right? Ever try to farm and ranch? It isn't easy. Keep up these attacks and you all can find out first hand.

    May 21, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Peoples State of Illinois
    @Dominican mama 4 Obama and Dutch,

    Your responses are disappointing, but not unexpected
    -------------------------------------------------
    Let me be perfectly clear and frank: it matters less than nothing to me that I have dissappointed someone like you.
    You may suffer from convenient personal amnesia in regards to your posts on this board, but I don't.
    Now save the drama for someone else's mama.

    May 21, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
1 2 3 4 5