OKLAHOMA CITY - Despite recent rains across a significant portion of Oklahoma, several counties are still suffering from a severe drought. Governor Mary Fallin declared a drought emergency today for much of southwestern Oklahoma and a portion of the Panhandle region. The declaration is based upon extreme-to-exceptional drought delineations specified by the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released this morning. The affected counties include Jackson, Tillman, Greer, Harmon and Texas.
Coinciding with the declaration, the Governor also announced the availability of state funds to provide much-needed drought assistance in those counties. Oklahoma’s new Emergency Drought Relief Fund, enabled through HB 1923, passed last year, includes grant funding for drought mitigation and related projects.
“These five counties have faced three years of unrelenting drought,” said Fallin. “It’s not just an inconvenience; for many in these communities it has caused real economic hardship.”
“The good news is that our Legislature took active steps this year to support the Emergency Drought Relief Fund. We will now be able to lend a hand to these communities and provide much-needed assistance.”
The gubernatorial drought declaration clears the way for expenditures from the Emergency Drought Relief Fund. Specific assistance projects are limited to the affected counties and must be approved by the Oklahoma Emergency Drought Commission, consisting of the Secretary of Agriculture and Executive Directors of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and Oklahoma Conservation Commission.
Applicants are asked to summarize their drought emergency in five pages or less, including full justification for the amount of assistance requested, details of any cost-share or matching funds provided by the applicant, ability of the applicant to finance the project without assistance, and implications should the applicant fail to receive funding for the desired activity or project. Additionally, applications to assist public water supply systems must include information about the system’s existing water and sewer rate structure, current indebtedness (per customer), and median customer household income. All applicants are asked to submit applications electronically via Email to Kirby.firstname.lastname@example.org or mail three copies of the application to: Oklahoma Emergency Drought Commission, 2800 North Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
For more information on assistance available through the Oklahoma Emergency Drought Relief Fund, please contact Kirby Smith at (405) 521-6479.