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Arkansas River Running High

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With more and more of Green Country underwater, the fast and high flow of the Arkansas River has some in Tulsa watching with a wary eye, remembering major flooding in the mid 80's. The News On 6’s Heather Lewin reports while the swift water is an impressive sight, the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the amount released by the dam, is confident at this point there's no danger of flooding.

You can't always predict what Mother Nature holds in store, but Tulsans we talked to at the water's edge were more in awe than afraid.

“Just coming down here and seeing the water flow at this force is impressive," said Bartlesville resident Ron Turner.

"I think it's pretty amazing,” said Tulsa resident Julie Malcom. “Just a couple of months ago it was bone dry. Now, it's just overflowing almost."

Right now, engineers are releasing about 70,000 cubic feet of water per second from near filled to the brim Keystone Lake. Officials say the lake isn't expected to crest at flood stage until Thursday, but even increasing the release to 100,00, they say the Arkansas will stay well within its banks.

"We were making releases in advance of some of the rain we knew that was coming to try to keep the pool down, but it's just been so much, that we can only allow so much to get out of there,” said Ross Adkins of Army Corps of Engineers.

In 1986, the corps was criticized for not releasing enough in advance. When the heavy rains came, there was just too much water to deal with. Engineers say they had no choice but to let the river run its course at 300,000 cubic feet per second.

It was a swift flow the banks couldn't hold, and major flooding caused widespread evacuations. Today, residents remember, but many are more confident than concerned.

The corps biggest concern on the Arkansas River isn't flooding, but water safety. As swift as the water looks from the bank, most people don't realize how much faster it is actually in it. Officials worry about those going to close to the edge being swept away.

Watch the video: Arkansas River Flood Gates Open

For more flooding information, check out our STORM ZONE web page.
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