- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Damage from severe storms that dropped historic levels of rainfall and spawned tornadoes and flooding across Oklahoma could reach $200 million, the state’s emergency management director said Tuesday.

Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said damage assessments are underway following storms that crisscrossed the state in May - the wettest month on record, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

Ashwood said the storms caused damage across a large geographic area, slowing the work of damage assessment teams.

Gov. Mary Fallin said officials in 70 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties have documented some degree of storm related damage. As many as 60 counties have reported road and bridge damage and $13 million in infrastructure damage to roads, bridges and other public facilities has already been documented, Fallin said.

“We’re currently in the process of analyzing and doing assessments,” Fallin said. “And there are many counties that are still to be assessed.”

Fallin said 828 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by storms that struck the state May 5-10. At least six deaths have been attributed to last month’s severe weather.

Federal disaster aid has already been approved for individuals and business owners in Cleveland, Grady and Oklahoma counties. Fallin has asked for similar federal aid for an additional 13 counties.

“We have a very high level of confidence that these declarations will be approved,” Fallin said.

The governor has also asked the federal government for public assistance for 16 counties to help local governments and rural electric cooperatives with infrastructure repairs, debris removal and costs associated with responding to the storms.

Ashwood said as many as 50 Oklahoma counties may eventually seek some form of federal disaster assistance.

“We will continue to do those assessments until we get them all done. It just takes a while,” Ashwood said.

Deby Snodgrass, Fallin’s secretary of commerce and tourism, said state parks were particularly hard hit by flooding during the month of May and that all or parts of several parks are closed. Beaver’s Bend State Park in far southeastern Oklahoma is currently without drinking water, Snodgrass said.

The statewide rainfall average for the month was 14.4 inches, 9.58 inches above normal and making May the wettest month on record for the state, eclipsing October 1941’s tally of 10.75 inches. The records date back to 1895.

While the entire state saw above normal rainfall, the southern half of the state received excessive moisture with widespread amounts of 15-25 inches, climatologists said.

A total of 23.4 inches was recorded in Norman, eclipsing the city’s previous high monthly mark of 16.5 inches in October 1983. Oklahoma City recorded 19.48 inches, besting June 1989’s 14.66 inches. Rainfall in Oklahoma City last month was 14.83 inches above normal.

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