Osage SkyNews 6 Pilot Recounts Unforgettable Sights Of Oklahoma's Devastating Floods
TULSA, Oklahoma - From the air, you can really see the scope of the devastation across Northeast Oklahoma.
News On 6's Ashley Izbicki caught up with Osage SkyNews 6 HD Pilot Dustin Stone who was flying across Green Country throughout the flooding and devastation. They talked about the six most memorable moments for Dustin.
The first thing that came to his mind was the barges.
“That was quite a scene,” Dustin said. “It was something to fly over those barges from our altitude. [They] looked like two little tin cans floating down the river. They were thinking they probably wouldn't damage the dam or cause any problems. We didn't know.”
“We wanted to make sure that if it did damage the dam, we could help people downstream know there were problems coming,” he continued. “As they were closing in, we were just quiet. I didn't have any words. The anticipation was just so thick; we just sat there and watched. They hit, and one of them sunk right away and the other one kind of churned and just went right under. And to see that happen like that was just incredible.”
The amount of water being released from Keystone Dam was immense, but Dustin also recalls the number of people who showed up to watch the spectacle.
"We started watching it in the weeks building up to it because we knew this was going to be a problem,” he said. “We would go out there when there was 40,000 CFS per second. Man, that was a lot of water, but then it went up and up and up and every day we'd go out there and just the more and more water coming out. I've never been to Niagara Falls, but I don't think now I need to.”
“Seeing that water coming out and all the mist that was just churning. As it became more and more, there was just more and more people out there. It would be lined on both sides with people who got to get a glimpse of this.”
Related Story: Spectators Visit Keystone Lake For Dam Release
One of the hardest hit areas, Muskogee, was another unforgettable sight from the air.
“I didn't realize how bad Muskogee County was until we were on our way back from Webbers Falls,” Dustin said. “We were just going to follow the river back to Tulsa, and I came up on the south side of Muskogee where the power plant was and I -- I've been to Muskogee many times and I've lived around this area my whole life -- and I was lost almost.”
“None of the landmarks aside from the power plant that I was used to seeing were there,” he said. “Highway 62, the road was completely covered in water ... all the houses around there were covered.”
Another memorable moment for Pilot Dustin Stone was water up to the rooftops in Sand Springs.
“Yeah, Sand Springs. We knew the areas of concerns there, so we flew over it beforehand so we would have a measure to go by as the water increased. I was shocked when I went back a couple days later and saw that these two neighborhoods, just south of the river, were completely covered. There were people in kayaks going down their neighborhood streets,” he said.
Another thing people are talking about is the National Guard response. Dustin had a unique view from the air.
“They were dropping sandbags up on the levee around Sand Springs. And just to see those helicopters dropping those things in like they are little trash bags. Those things are so heavy and they're placing them right where they need to be to try and keep this water from spilling out. To repair a levee that might be damaged,” Dustin said.
We've had people out of state coming to help, but we've also had Oklahomans helping Oklahomans.
“I have to brag on the Coweta band students a little bit. All these kids are out there filling sandbags and I actually asked one of them, 'Why are you here?' He said, 'Well, my grandmother's house was flooded, and we needed sandbags. We got her taken care of, but now I'm back helping fill sandbags for other people who need it.' It was a hot Saturday,” Dustin said.
“I am sure they probably had something else to be doing, but they were out helping fill these sandbags for people who were in harm’s way,” he said.