Rescue Crews Dealing With Waist Deep Water In Fort Gibson


Wednesday, May 29th 2019, 8:38 pm
By: Amy Slanchik


Flooding continues to be a problem in Muskogee County, where people can only get to and from Muskogee and Fort Gibson by boat unless drivers want to take a two-hour detour.

The relentless rain isn’t stopping first responders from helping whoever is in need.

While the thunder rolls and the rain comes pouring down again, a swift water rescue team was waist deep in the Langton neighborhood to check on a woman who may need help.

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The team said she decided to stay, despite being encouraged to head out. Several homes are flooded, and the water is getting just close enough for Bill Chanslor and his wife to start getting ready to leave. They have packed up a few things in their vehicle.

“Mostly just stuff for us to survive for two or three days away from home,” Chanslor said.

Cherokee Nation Marshals and Emergency Management are working out of a trailer, where they’ve been for a week.

They’re working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Fire and Rescue Swift Water Team out of North Carolina.

“It was a 14-hour drive to get here,” Swift Water Team Leader Thomas Simmons said.

Simmons said the two tribes have a pact to work together, but their bond runs deeper than that. Crews from Oklahoma helped in North Carolina during Hurricane Florence.

“We made a lot of friends last September,” Simmons said. “People we didn’t know then that we’re very close to now.”

Together, the group has rescued or evacuated 21 people in Fort Gibson, Okay and Braggs. They also saved 19 calves.

“That was quite a chore, pulling a 400-pound calf on board a boat that we’ve never done or was designed to,” Cherokee Nation Marshals Special Operations Commander Danny Tanner said.

At Fort Gibson High School, Governor Kevin Stitt joined kids for a free basketball camp, meant to help get everyone’s mind away from what’s happening outside.

“Young people are resilient and a lot of times they don’t know what the adults are having to go through with the flood damage,” Stitt said.

The free camp will also be available Thursday. School leaders said about twice as many students are able to participate this year than in years past because it’s free.

Chanslor, who remembers the 1986 flood, is grateful for neighbors who will help again this time around.

“All the neighbors who lived here at that time worked together and unloaded all the furniture out of each house,” Chanslor said.

Fort Gibson police said they’ve been having issues with people going around barricades to look at flooding. Officers said they are ticketing people who they find going past the barricades and the fine is more than $200.

The First Baptist Church is providing shelter to those in need in Fort Gibson.