Legislation filed in Oklahoma would establish an organizational framework for addressing natural disasters in the state.
House Bill 2776, The Oklahoma Hazard Mitigation Assessment District Act, introduced by State Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks), would provide the framework for residents in each county to elect and establish a hazard mitigation assessment district.
It is the first piece of legislation to be introduced following interim studies Sims hosted at the State Capitol in September and October 2019 to conduct a comprehensive review of the Arkansas River Flood of 2019.
“Oklahoma ranks third in the U.S. in Federal Disaster Declarations and is the only state in the top seven that does not border the ocean or gulf,” said Rep Sims. “We have to empower our people with the ability to protect themselves from the natural disasters that traditionally put their farms, homes, businesses, cities, towns and lives at risk. From generation to generation, one natural disaster after another, it’s hard not to become complacent to the tradition of tragedy that comes with living in Oklahoma. We can no longer accept that more than half of Oklahoma communities have no access to flood insurance or even the basic resources for hazard mitigation, planning, disaster recovery and most disheartening, local matching dollars to qualify for millions in additional federal aid that victims so desperately need to recover.”
The Act has gained early support from the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO), and the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA), which represents the most population-dense county in the state.
In his interim study presentation, Joseph Kralicek, Executive Director of TAEMA said, “One dollar of mitigation brings a return of seven dollars or more.