Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants Answers To Help Prevent Future Flooding

Tuesday, July 23rd 2019, 6:54 pm
By: Amy Avery

An Oklahoma lawmaker is spearheading an effort to make sure the state did everything it could to help flood victims forced out of their homes by the Arkansas River.

Representative Lonnie Sims has proposed an interim study to look back on the recent flooding. He says there are a lot of questions still unanswered and hopes the state can work to prevent another flood from happening.

“I kind of was in a state of shock for a while, but you get over it and plug through it,” said Town and Country resident Jim Sanders.

Jim Sanders says he and his wife moved to their Sand Springs home in the Town and Country neighborhood because it is quiet and peaceful. Now they are working to rebuild it after it was damaged by recent flooding.

“I’ve never had to get the permits or do what we’ve had to do,” said Town and Country resident Jim Sanders.

Sanders has been in construction for most of his life, but says he's used to working on other people's houses, not his own.

“We removed all the electric plugs and wiring and now we are ready to start sheet rocking," said Sanders.

Sanders says he loves the Town and Country neighborhood and would never want to move, but he and his neighbors are still wondering if their homes are safe.

“If they are pretty sure it’s going to flood again, why don’t they have everyone get out or buy everyone out or why would they let you rebuild in this area,” said Sanders.

Related Story: Sand Springs Residents Still Cleaning Up 2 Months After Historic Floods 

After seeing some of the recent flooding firsthand and experiencing a levee breach in his own district, Representative Lonnie Sims proposed an interim study to look back on what happened.

“How did we prepare for it, how did we respond to it and what are the lessons that can be gained going forward,” said House District 68 Representative Lonnie Sims.

Sims plans to meet with the Army Corps of Engineers, along with city and county leaders to figure out if anything can be done to protect areas that had devastating flooding.

He says they have been asking questions like, "Can we transfer some of the great storm water management success we’ve had here in Tulsa to Webbers Falls or some of these other areas,” said Sims, “or there may be some legislative action that we need to take to allow us to make the investments to protect areas like Town and Country in the future.”

In 1986, there were around 5,500 structures that were damaged during the flood in Tulsa County. This year there were about 600.

“It’s important when you have people who have suffered the tragedies that they have - can we mitigate it and can we prevent it happening in the future,” said Sims.

Sims says that shows the county is making strides but believes more needs to be done to protect homes and businesses outside the levees but still in the flood plain and to look at Tulsa County’s 75-year-old levee system.

“We want to try to catalog as much information here at the local level and state level and hopefully we can bring some much-needed federal resources to repair these," said Sims. 

The study was just approved this past weekend and is still in the beginning stages so there's no timeline on completion at this point.

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