Okmulgee County Residents Dealing With Severe Flooding

Saturday, May 7th 2022, 11:02 pm

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma -

Okmulgee County Emergency Management said the water levels are finally creeping down, but it could take weeks or even months to repair and replace the acres worth of damage caused by this week's flooding.

Okmulgee residents are still trying to pick up the pieces and have a long road ahead of them.

Related Story: Okmulgee County Officials Say Flooding Could Stick Around For Days

They're not out of the woods just yet. There's a lot of water that still needs to drain before repairs can be done.

"It really hurts. So, it got into the house. We can't even get to the house," said Teeny Reagan.

Teeny Reagan grew up here.

"Oh my God. Oh my God. We ain't never had nothing like this here," said Reagan. "Mailbox is covered up with water, and my brother's truck out there is full. It's flooded out.

Waist deep waters are ripping up roads, pouring into people's homes, threatening livestock, and interrupting their livelihood.

"This poor town was just devastated for the second time in 10 and a half months so people that didn't have coverage, people that are displaced, don't have a place to go, it's a pretty sad situation," said Bob Jandebeur.

Bob Jandebeur said he thought he had everything under control.

"We thought we'd be smart. We put towels and things up against the doors. Well, when those started floating away. We knew we were in trouble," said Jandebeur. "It happened fast, and we weren't prepared for it to happen that quickly."

But Mother Nature had different plans.

"She was pretty angry," said Jandebeur. "I think don't take the chance that you'll be okay. Make your way to high ground before it gets too late."

He said four feet of water came pouring in, trapping his family upstairs.

"It was like a bad dream. It was like, this can't be happening," said Jandebeur. "Thank goodness to a dear friend and his cousin who rescued us with an airboat at 4 in the morning.

Emergency Management Director Tim Craighton said the Deep Fork River crested at about 31 feet around midnight, despite anticipating 33 feet; he said it was within 3 feet of the river's record and likely its 3rd highest crest ever.

"Homes have been flooded; they need to be cutting dry wall and cleaning out carpet," said Craighton.

He has advice for anyone hiring contractors.

"Those who have damage and are calling contractors to fix damaged things, make sure that they're licensed. Make sure that they're reputable. Make sure you've got written contracts with people, because every time we have a disaster, we have people that are scammed and lose thousands of dollars," said Tim Craighton, Okmulgee County Emergency Management Director.

In the meantime, Jandebeur is living in his RV while trying to salvage his home and the memories inside.

"I've got all my friends that are here helping us go through this so I'm not doing it alone," said Jandebeur. "I'm one that likes to dwell on the solution and not the problem."

He believes, "Planning needs to go into effect to get this water shed running where it should as oppose through people's houses," and adds, "There's got to be something done with some state funds, fed funds and otherwise."

Craighton said they've already begun assessing homes and have teams scheduled to come in next week and start assessing what kind of damage they really have to things like roads. He told us we'll start seeing some roads open back up by Monday.

"Things can be replaced. People can't," said Craighton.