Muskogee County Evacuations Underway As Arkansas River Rises
FORT GIBSON, Oklahoma - In Muskogee, the flooding could be devastating and is threatening businesses along the shore - including the power plant.
The flooding in Muskogee is on the eastern edge of town, by the river. The eastern side of the river is flooding, and the water is rising.
The Arkansas is already higher in Muskogee than it was in 1986, and it's not only spilling out of its banks, it's a hazard for navigation. Shipping is shut down.
The high water has inundated the land around Three Forks Harbor - so boats that were in dry dock are back in the water. The Port staff evacuated by boat as the water continued to rise.
There was an emergency on the water Wednesday morning - two loaded barges broke loose upriver and were headed for the Highway 62 bridge. Deputies rushed to get traffic off the bridge as a precaution - but the barges were stopped about 200 yards away.
"We've got barges in the Grand River and three rowboats trying to make sure they don't break loose because there's no place to tie them up as you typically would to the morning dolphins because they're underwater," said Port Director Scott Robinson.
The Cherokee Nation estimates 164 Cherokee homes will flood and have set up a staging area with marshals to assist residents in Fort Gibson. They're asking people to leave now.
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The Oklahoma Department of Transportation thinks they will have to close down the roadway on the east side of the bridge by the casino.
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Muskogee Public Schools announced students may be picked up early Wednesday due to flooding concerns. School buses will run normal routes.
"We ask for your patience during this process and please stay weather aware. Information regarding possible school closure tomorrow will be communicated as soon as a decision is made," said Steve Braun, Muskogee Public Schools.