`PRAY FOR NO RAIN' Flood­wa­ters in Tulsa area not ex­pected to rise

Tulsa World - - Front Page - By Stet­son Payne

City and county of­fi­cials said they be­lieve the Arkansas River's flood­wa­ters will sta­bi­lize through Sun­day but want the pub­lic to re­main cau­tious and pre­pared in the event more rain falls and scraps those plans.

At a Fri­day news con­fer­ence, of­fi­cials up­dated flood con­di­tions through­out Tulsa County, ad­dressed flow rates from the Key­stone Dam and urged people to stay away from the wa­ter, with Tulsa's mayor sharply crit­i­ciz­ing par­ents who al­lowed their chil­dren to play in the flood­wa­ters.

The river reached 22 feet, the edge of ma­jor flood stage, on Fri­day morn­ing and is ex­pected to stay there as long as the Key­stone Dam con­tin­ues its re­lease at 250,000 cu­bic feet per sec­ond.

The river level was lower Fri­day morn­ing than the ini­tial fore­cast of 23 feet, in part be­cause ex­perts be­lieve last week's high-vol­ume re­lease likely in­creased the river's ca­pac­ity ever so slightly.

“For­tu­nately, that week of high re­lease prior to this event seems to have scoured out the river,” said Joe Kral­icek, di­rec­tor of the Tulsa Area Emergency Man­age­ment Agency. “I think that's saved a lot of homes and a lot of people.”

The Arkansas River's dis­tinc­tive sand­bars through the Tulsa area were likely swept away un­der the pres­sure of 100,000 cu­bic feet per sec­ond last week, Kral­icek said.

That scour­ing made the river chan­nel about 9 inches deeper in the Tulsa area, some­thing Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said made a big dif­fer­ence in mit­i­gat­ing some of the flood­ing along the river­front.

De­spite this, the cur­rent re­lease is the heav­i­est load on Tulsa County lev­ees since 1986. The flow it­self isn't the great­est con­cern; it's the length of time those lev­ees are un­der pres­sure.

Bynum said a crew from Cross­land Con­struc­tion worked through the night Thurs­day in the Gar­den City neigh­bor­hood to build a new levee to con­tain a leak.

“I want to give a deep sense of grat­i­tude and thanks to the team at Cross­land Con­struc­tion,” Bynum said. “This morn­ing, that new levee is in place, and it is pro­tect­ing the Gar­den City neigh­bor­hood.”

An es­ti­mated 1,100 Tulsa res­i­dents were af­fected by flood­ing. About 700 more, be­tween Sand Springs, Jenks and Bixby, also were im­pacted. An es­ti­mated 160 homes in Bro­ken Ar­row were ex­pected to be af­fected, an of­fi­cial said.

There have been no re­ported in­juries or deaths due to flood­ing in the Tulsa area, ac­cord­ing to a city spokes­woman.

Statewide, emergency man­age­ment of­fi­cials re­port 83 in­juries in con­nec­tion to the se­vere weather and flood­ing. Two deaths have been at­trib­uted to flood­ing and se­vere weather: a 53-year-old woman in Payne County and a 58-year-old man in Stephens County.

Also, a woman died from a med­i­cal is­sue while seek­ing shel­ter from a tor­nado in Jay this week, ac­cord­ing to the town's po­lice chief.

Fri­day morn­ing, Bynum said a fly­over gave him a new per­spec­tive on the flood con­trol mea­sures built across Tulsa through the years.

“The main thing that stands out to me in look­ing at that is tremen­dous grat­i­tude for the people that came be­fore us in decades past who fought to build the levee sys­tem we have that is work­ing the way it's sup­posed to,” Bynum said. “(They) thought to uti­lize our River Parks network as a buf­fer for flood­ing events be­tween the river cor­ri­dor and the built en­vi­ron­ment of the city; and the River Parks are serv­ing that pur­pose right now.”

Al­though of­fi­cials be­lieved the planned wa­ter re­lease from Key­stone would be enough through Sun­day, that plan de­pends on weather.

Storms that pro­duced flash flood warn­ings de­vel­oped west of Tulsa on Fri­day night and moved east­ward. A flash flood watch is in ef­fect un­til 7 p.m. Wed­nes­day for Tulsa, Craig, Creek, Nowata, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers and Wash­ing­ton coun­ties.

U.S. Sen. James Lank­ford said dur­ing the news con­fer­ence that Key­stone Dam is work­ing as de­signed but what hap­pens next de­pends on the weather.

“We need to right now pray for no rain,” Lank­ford said. “And we need to stay out of the wa­ter.”

The prob­lem­atic fore­cast is why of­fi­cials want the pub­lic to re­main aware.

Kral­icek said the Tulsa Area Emergency Man­age­ment Agency has pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­ity of a re­lease of more than 300,000 cu­bic feet per sec­ond from the Key­stone Dam. Out­flow from the dam was at 255,000 cfs Fri­day night and in­flow had dropped from nearly 320,000 at its peak to 240,000.

“We planned for the flood of record, which is 307,000 cu­bic feet per sec­ond,” Kral­icek said. “We're well be­low our es­tab­lished plan where we're at right now. Rest as­sured, even if the wa­ter comes up a bit, we are ready to act. The com­mu­nity at large, we have been pre­par­ing for this.”

TOM GIL­BERT/Tulsa World

The Army Corps of En­gi­neers re­leases wa­ter from Key­stone Dam into the Arkansas River on Fri­day, when the rate re­mained at 250,000 cu­bic feet per sec­ond.

TOM GIL­BERT/Tulsa World

Traf­fic crosses Key­stone Dam as wa­ter is re­leased from Key­stone Lake into the Arkansas River.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.