Byline: Morgan Taylor/Multimedia Producer
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation received a Presidential Disaster Declaration for public assistance through Federal Emergency Management Agency due to inclement weather during May 2-8.
According to MCN Emergency Management Supervisor Bobby Howard, public assistance does not include individual assistance of homes and property. The public aid includes buildings, bridges, roads, and infrastructure around the reservation used by both Muscogee citizens and other Oklahoma citizens.
Counties and municipalities around the reservation can apply for FEMA funds but will do so through the MCN. Once applied for, if granted, the funds will be delegated to the municipalities through the MCN as well. In other words, the MCN is playing the role that would be typically known as the role of the state government.
“This has never been done before,” Howard said. “We are pioneering.”
Howard said this relationship would serve as an example for future collaborations that tribes can follow and an example to learn.
“We will succeed,” Howard said. “We will be efficient, effective, and transparent throughout this process.”
Howard mentions that it is a testament to the relationship between the federal government and the MCN.
“It’s a partnership,” Howard said. “We get to deal with FEMA as a Federal-to-Federal agency, unlike the state.”
Not only is the working relationship above par, but the MCN has the country’s number one tribal hazard mitigation plan.
A FEMA representative joined Howard to review the damages around the nation for a preliminary damage assessment that included $3.5 million for road repairs alone.
Howard says the preliminary assessment findings are the first step in the process. A meeting between officials of the MCN, FEMA, county commissioners, city managers, and entities will develop project worksheets on Oct. 17. Project worksheets will then be turned in to Howard and forwarded to FEMA for funding. FEMA will then distribute funds to the MCN Finance Department to each county for repairs.
This is a developing story.