Oklahoma City announced it would take part in a program authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the repairs. Tulsa announced its participation.
The program authorizes communities and utility companies to contract with licensed electricians to make needed repairs. The electricians will be paid $500 for each job they take.
The federal government will pay 75 percent of the bill, and the state and local governments will split the rest. Homeowners who seek the help will not have to pay for the work. There is no income requirement to qualify, but anyone who already has paid an electrician to make needed repairs will not be eligible for reimbursement, officials said.
Discussions about the program started just recently, said Albert Ashwood, director of Oklahoma's Department of Emergency Management. He said the $500 payment amount for electricians was decided upon after much discussion. The $500 amount usually is a minimum deductible for people with insurance, he said.
"The real need is to get lights back on. The quicker we can get people home, then the less there is a need for shelters and emergency food and water and that type of thing," Ashwood said.
State officials said they were told by FEMA that getting electrical service entrances to homes and businesses was a significant issue during the recovery process after Hurricane Katrina.
Gov. Brad Henry said an estimated 40,000 utility customers statewide need electrical service entrance repairs and may not be able to pay for the work. Oklahoma City and Tulsa have set up hot lines that their residents can call to report problems with their electrical service entrances.
Outside of those two cities, people who need the service should contact their electric providers to get repairs started. People who live within Public Service Co. of Oklahoma or Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. service areas, but not in the Tulsa or Oklahoma City areas, should call the hot lines established for Tulsa and Oklahoma City residents, Ashwood said.