Oklahoma's Dams Built To Prevent Even Worse Flooding
TULSA, Oklahoma - Hydrologically speaking, this is the wettest month on record for the past 120 years, not just the wettest May, but any month.
All the water has been running off into a series of lakes around eastern Oklahoma and putting pressure on a series of dams. In fact, Oklahoma is known as the frontier lake state. Almost all of those dams were built in response to huge floods.
This part of the country is made up of a series of basins, like big bathtubs - the upper Arkansas, the lower Arkansas, the Canadian and so on.
When it rains a lot all the water fills the rivers and streams in the basins and heads downstream.
Over the years, there's been flooding events, property damage and, sometimes, loss of life.
To prevent that, the government built dams and the dams created lakes to hold the water to prevent flooding and to keep people and their stuff safe.
We have a lot of lakes and dams here in Oklahoma. The Corps of Engineers said there are about 50 dams, big and small, in this part of the country and most of them are for flood control.
The problem now is that it's rained so much, over such a wide area, that all the lakes and dams are straining to hold back the water.
The Corps is now trying to sequentially release what they can so it doesn't all hit the end of the funnel, which is Van Buren, Arkansas, all at once.
To do that the Corps needs dry weather and time.
As bad as the situation is now, it most likely would have been much worse if we didn't have all those dams to hold the high water.