Governor Mary Fallin Wednesday declared a state of emergency for four counties due to tornadoes, severe storms, straight-line winds and flooding that occurred Aug. 5-6, 2017.
The counties included in the governor’s declaration are Mayes, Rogers, Tulsa and Wagoner.
The storms resulted in more than 170 businesses and homes damaged. Thirteen people were transported to local hospitals due to storm-related injuries.
Under the executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.
The declaration can be amended to add additional counties if conditions warrant.
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak touring the Tulsa damage offered tips to tornado victims to ease the recovery process.
“Filing an insurance claim can be an intimidating process,” Commissioner Doak said. “But we are here for those who suffered from the storms, including business owners. We want to make sure they get the assistance they need to recover as quickly as possible.”
More than 150 businesses and 25 homes were damaged in the EF-2 tornado on Sunday. Business owners should ask their agent or insurance company if they have business interruption coverage. This type of insurance covers the revenue earned, based on financial records, had the tornado not occurred. The policy might also cover operating expenses, like electricity, that continue even though business activities have come to a temporary halt. Businesses that were not damaged, but are being forced to close because of the debris, may also be able to file a claim with business interruption coverage.
All tornado victims should be on the lookout for fraudsters after the storm. Oklahoma Insurance Department Anti-Fraud agents will be in the area to educate people about potential scams. They are also sharing these tips on hiring service providers after a disaster:
- Don’t let anyone inspect your property without you watching. Some unscrupulous companies will cause damage to drive up the repair cost.
- Never pay the entire repair bill in advance. Pay in full only when the work is completed according to your agreement. Or pay a portion up front for materials.
- Be suspicious of anyone who offers to get you more money for your insurance claim.
- Look for an established, licensed company and request references.
- Insist on a detailed, written estimate clearly stating the quantity of materials needed, the approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures. Also, a signature is not required to receive an estimate. Some scammers will trick you into signing a contract by saying it’s an estimate.
- Carefully review and understand any warranty and watch for conditions that would void it.
- Use caution and ask questions before accepting a bid substantially lower than other bids covering the same repair work.
- Avoid high pressure sales tactics.
If anyone needs help filing a claim, questions about the claims process or suspects insurance fraud after the storm, they can call OID’s consumer assistance division at 800-522-0071.