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Between 2001 and 2011, there were 76 presidential and disaster emergency declarations made in Oklahoma. Perhaps more remarkable is the fact that Oklahoma is the only non-coastal state listed among the top five states with the greatest number of disaster declarations, ranking third behind California and Texas and ahead of Florida and New York. Oklahoma County is one of nine Oklahoma counties listed nationally among the top 30 hardest-hit disaster counties. For example, between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2010, Oklahoma County experienced 27 flood events, 81 hail storms, 26 snow and ice events, and 23 tornadoes.
Oklahoma residents are all too familiar with natural disasters, and being prepared is a critical to staying safe in emergency situations. United Way of Central Oklahoma donor dollars fund programs that provide disaster relief assistance, as well as programs that prepare Oklahomans for disasters, including life-saving CPR and First Aid Training. Additionally, our Partner Agencies assist with education on how to create basic disaster preparedness kits, family emergency and home safety plans.
Not commonly thought of as being a “disaster,” Oklahoma’s extreme temperature fluctuations are life-threatening to our community’s most vulnerable populations. Children, the elderly, the homeless, and those who are unable to afford the high cost of their utilities (in 32-/100+ degree days) are more vulnerable to the affects of the weather. Over the last decade, deaths due to extreme temperatures account for the loss of more central Oklahomans than any other weather related event combined.
In light of the individuals and community needs that arise in times of weather-related disasters, United Way of Central Oklahoma is compelled to support disaster response and recovery efforts as part of our Community Preparedness focus area. In doing so, we assist with the coordination of community resources and volunteers as part of the City of Oklahoma City’s Emergency Response Plan. This is a role that our staff takes very seriously, and we stand ready to partner with other local agencies to support our community through any means necessary.
Data sources: United Way of Central Oklahoma: Oklahoma County Vital Signs: July 2011, National Climate Data Center, and Federal Emergency Management Agency, Oklahoma Disaster Resource Portal.