May 26th, 2013
09:59 AM ET
10 years ago

Okla. governor aims to cut red tape

(CNN) – As President Barack Obama heads to Oklahoma on Sunday for a firsthand look at the miles of debris left by last week’s tornado, the state’s governor says her chief request for the federal government is help plowing through regulatory hurdles.

“Basically what I need is the ability to get through red tape, the ability to get the FEMA funds in here quickly and to get the services that our citizens need to help them recover through this terrible disaster,” Gov. Mary Fallin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Last week, an EF5 tornado - the strongest possible designation - tore through Moore, Oklahoma, leaving 24 people dead and miles of destroyed homes and businesses. Top federal disaster officials traveled to Oklahoma in the immediate aftermath of the storm, including Craig Fugate, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary.

Fallin, a Republican, said she appreciated those visits, and said the initial reaction from the federal government in assisting her state was fast and effective.

“So far we have had great response,” she said, quickly adding there was a long way to go before Moore returns to normal.

“This is a massive debris field. It's not just a couple blocks. It's miles. It's 17 miles long, almost a mile and a half wide. So it's not just a little area. There's a lot to be done here. A lot of businesses are closed, a lot of people without jobs just because their businesses are closed,” Fallin told chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Other elected officials whose regions have suffered natural disasters advised Fallin to be realistic with Oklahomans as they rebuild their community, noting the process for obtaining federal funds is dotted with rules and regulations.

“Your expectations are always greater than what is delivered immediately,” said Melodee Colbert-Kean, the mayor of Joplin, Missouri, which was slammed by an EF5 tornado two years ago.

“Your first thought is to make sure your citizens are OK and get your city back on track. However, you do have to go through the proper procedures that the government has outlaid for FEMA. You do have to follow those guidelines. And sometimes it can be frustrating, but the key thing is to communicate with your citizens.”

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-New York, said the recovery of his storm-ravaged Staten Island district was still only half complete, more than six months after Superstorm Sandy blew through.

“It certainly is taking too long,” he said. “That's why I would say it's going to be very difficult for the governor to manage expectations, because you think the cavalry’s coming. And it's going to take a long time just because there is a bureaucracy that even during extreme times is very difficult to cut through.”

Filed under: Mary Fallin • Oklahoma
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Cephus

    Whose this person talking about red tape? People need help that's a fact any delays will be injustice to the victims.

    May 26, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  2. Pete

    The only red tape snagging emergency response,aid and related help are from republicans again trying their federal spending cuts matching emergency aid..It's been previlent back years ago when Cantor refused to send emergency aid to his own state of Virginia unless Pres.Obama matched federal budget cuts with emergency aid ,how callus and insensitive,even rediculous but that's the idiots these republicans vote for thinking they're there for their states welfare,well being that's hilarious as well!!If I were a republican these days I'd be more critical of who I'm voting for because you've not in recent years got your monies worth and you know it!!

    May 26, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Donkey Party

    Do these Republicans hear their own words? It's their own party that wants to do away with FEMA, it's their own party that desperately tries to manipulate the funds with "offsets", it's their own party that laments the effectiveness of government, when it's their own party that does everything it can to gum up the works. Fallin, in typical Republican fashion, is nothing more than an opportunist, using this tragedy to bolster any re-election attempt by trying to sound like she's on top of things, even while the President has clearly indicated that a rapid response from the GOP loathed government is on the way. In other words, she's not humbled by the gravity of the situation, unlike her counterpart in NJ after Sandy struck. She's obviously fearful of the backlash Christie received from the GOP for praising the rapid response from the President and the government. This is political gamesmanship at its worst.

    May 26, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  4. plain&simple

    I don't think you get through bureaucracy even in extreme times by having a dysfunctional government. One that doesn't on an everyday basis put it's people first. Red states ,blue states, that's a bunch of crap. Government has a place and a job to do and the only way any job gets done is by working together to provide solutions! You think we can figure that out. Get the agenda driven extreme out of the federal government and we might see progress.Americans are always going to have needs. It's called life and we need an effective,efficacy in delivering services to those in need! Period!

    May 26, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Bill Long

    God Bless them all..Good Luck on getting any real help from Obama..The Oklahoma people know how to survive

    May 26, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Marie MD

    OK most certainly needs federal help but when it affects the red states they can't do it fast enough., When it's NJ or LA let's sit on it and make sure we get something back is the mantra of the rethugs and tea trolls in congress.

    May 26, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    They will get far greater help from their own state government, and from church based assistance, than they will from the Feds or FEMA.

    We know that to be true from simply examining case after case, after case.

    The state is doing a great job of getting insurance companies to deal with claims rapidly. I commend them for how well they are doing that.

    May 26, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Larry L

    This would be a great opportunity for those Oklahoma politicians who've blocked aid to other locations to set an example. Just don't accept federal aid! No FEMA, no disaster loans, no National Guard, and certainly no flood or windstorm insurance backed by the federal government. You hate "big government" and now you can show the world how much you don't need the support!

    May 26, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Larry L

    @Bill Long

    God Bless them all..Good Luck on getting any real help from Obama..The Oklahoma people know how to survive
    It doesn't appear God is too interested in "blessing them". Aid will not be delayed by the President – look to the Republican Congress to delay release of the funds like they've done in other disasters. That tactic was strongly supported by both Senators from Oklahoma.

    May 26, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Pander Bear

    "As an Oklahoma, we owe success to the success and ingenuity of individuals, not the federal government. President Obama just doesn’t get it. He’ll tell you. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Someone else made that happen. The president believes that government is responsible for our successes. So his solution is more government ... like Obamacare. Romney understands it’s free enterprise and hard work, not the government." – Mary Fallin at the 2012 GOP convention.

    "Hurry up with that there Federal FEMA money from all the Blue states" – Mary Fallin 2013

    May 26, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. GOP = Greed Over People

    "I am shocked, shocked I say" that a red state governor is whining about Not getting FEMA funds fast enough, due to "red tape".

    Is the moronette aware if the House GOP had their way, there would be no FEMA funds to whine over and the state,would have to pick up the bill?p

    Oh, the. Hypocrisy!

    May 26, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    She needs to talk her two Republican senators if she wants what the government has to offer. They do the blocking. Maybe at least one needs to be replaced with a Democrat.

    May 26, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |