Picher tornado victims get help

U. S. Senator Jim Inhofe and Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry announced Tuesday that $8 million is immediately available to continue the relocation work on the Tar Creek Superfund site to assist the residents of Picher and Cardin following the devastating tornado that destroyed much of these communities. 

Senator Inhofe said, “This $8 million in federal funds will be first used to assist the victims of the May 10 tornado in the Picher area.  I have been assured by Governor Henry and the Trust (Lead Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust) that these tornado victims will be moved to the top of the buyout list.  As I toured the area on two separate occasions, once on the morning following the tornado and the second time with Secretary Chertoff of Homeland Security, David Paulison, Director of FEMA, Governor Brad Henry and Congressman Dan Boren, it became obvious that this funding must be expedited.”

Governor Henry, “First, I want to thank Senator Inhofe, Congressman Boren, Environmental Secretary Miles Tolbert, OEM Director Albert Ashwood, federal authorities and all of the other officials who helped make this possible.  At a critical time for the residents of Picher, everyone worked together to secure the resources necessary to quickly complete the relocation effort.  After the environmental dangers of Tar Creek and the deadly May 10 tornado, it would have been unconscionable to ask the people of Picher to wait months or years to wait on a buyout program.  They survived the nightmare, and we hope they can emerge from these trying times and ultimately make a better life for themselves and their families.”

“The funding will be made available in two segments,” Inhofe said. “Initially, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making $3 million available to the state through funds that I specifically directed for relocation in previously passed appropriations language.  The EPA is also making an additional $5 million available through federal superfund program resources to the state for the purpose of Tar Creek relocation efforts pursuant to language that I included in the Water Resources Development Act.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this devastating tornado.”

Dr. Mark Osborne, Vice Chairman of the Trust, said “We are overwhelmingly grateful as a Trust for the work of Senator Inhofe and Governor Henry in securing this funding so quickly. We will use it as best we can to benefit the people affected by the recent tragedy in Picher and further the mission of the relocation trust.”