FEMA to establish local Disaster Assistance Center

Washington County Emergency Management Director Kary Cox said Monday a Disaster Assistance Center will be established in Bartlesville soon to help local residents who were affected by localized flooding last month obtain assistance from the federal government.

Washington County was declared a disaster area by Gov. Kevin Stitt over the past weekend, paving the way for local residents whose structures were damaged by flood waters to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Assistance available could include grants, temporary housing, low interest loans and other services.

“Residents will have to sign up to receive assistance,” Cox said Monday. “Hopefully, we will have the center set up later this week.”

He said the location and other details regarding the center will be made public soon.

Flooding that began May 20 left approximately 80 Bartlesville residents contending with structural damage. Many were forced to evacuate their homes.

Police, fire and other City personnel worked to rescue several people stranded in floodwater — notably with the assistance of Dewey resident and air-boat owner Melvin Offutt.

“He assisted the fire department with several rescues over the course of about 12 hours,” said City Manager Mike Bailey, noting that an air-boat has the capability of traversing surfaces too challenging for most boats. “I was on the scene of one of these rescues and was thoroughly impressed by the efforts put in to save two people who attempted to return to their flooded home. Mr. Offutt generously donated his time and equipment to help, which was very much appreciated.”

Fire Chief John Banks said firefighters began responding to rescue calls Monday evening and continued through late Tuesday.

“Rescues take a lot of time, and there were so many of them that we got overwhelmed pretty quickly,” he said. “We’re grateful to (Offutt) and all the neighboring agencies that turned out to help.”