Tulsa Officials Urge Citizens To Stay Away From River Parks, Levee Areas

Tuesday, May 28th 2019, 12:40 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County and city officials held a briefing to update the public about the flooding situation and response Tuesday, May 28. 

Mayor G.T. Bynum urged residents who live in the areas that would be affected by levees failing to evacuate. He said while it is not an emergency situation at this time because the levees are holding - it is safer for people to evacuate voluntarily.

Bynum also said that although they have been patient with people trying to see the historic flooding, citizens need to stay away from the levee areas and River Parks. Tulsa Police will begin to cite people who are not going beyond barriers and safety tape at the park.

Erosion is making the River Parks area extremely dangerous, Sgt. Shane Tuell said. He said people are ignoring the barriers and getting into the water where there are snakes and sewage. 

Tuell also said they are patrolling the homes of people who have done the right thing and have evacuated their homes voluntarily.  Tulsa County Sheriff's Office is also patrolling the areas to watch for looters, Commissioner Karen Keith said.

Here is a release from the City of Tulsa with the information covered in the news conference:

The Army Corps of Engineers continue to release 275,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from Keystone Dam. In the absence of additional rainfall, the Corps says it will continue this level of outflow through Thursday, but officials will keep a close watch on the potential rainfall overnight in the event the release rate increases.  The Army Corps of Engineers continue to release 275,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from Keystone Dam. In the absence of additional rainfall, the Corps says it will continue this level of outflow through Thursday, but officials will keep a close watch on the potential rainfall overnight in the event the release rate increases.  

Residents living along the Arkansas River and the 100-year flood plain need to remain vigilant for potential voluntary evacuations. The City of Tulsa has been planning for historic 1986 flooding levels, The maps for those flooding levels at a 305,000 cfs release rate can be found at www.cityoftulsa.org/rivermaps.

Levee Management

The levees are currently working as they should.

The Army National Guard are closely monitoring the levees 24/7. Residents should be prepared for a voluntary evacuation and remain vigilant to this evolving situation due to the duration of water pressure on our levee system. Bus transportation via Tulsa Transit has been arranged to assist residents who want to self-evacuate.

The self-evacuation locations are 2401 Charles Page Blvd. at Tulsa County Social Services and Cameron St. & 41st W. Avenue (Wayman Tisdale Fine Arts Academy). The Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority (MTTA) is the official transportation to the shelters and the buses are running from 11 a.m. – midnight. 
All maps for the flooding event, including levees, can be found at: www.cityoftulsa.org/rivermaps 

Floodwater Health Advisory Residents are advised to stay away from floodwater and standing waters as they can be dangerous. Floodwaters can contain harmful debris, sewage and snakes. The Tulsa Health Department is offering tetanus shots at no cost at any of its immunization clinics during normal working hours. For hours and locations, call (918)-582-9355 or go to tulsa-health.org/vaccines. 

Neighborhood and Barricade Safety 

Tulsa Police and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office are patrolling evacuated neighborhoods to thwart looters and keep homes secure and will do the same with any future evacuations. Once areas are evacuated, non-residents are not allowed in the affected areas. 

Police are urging people to not drive around barricades. These barricades are put up for the safety of everyone. River Parks is closed. This area should be avoided have unstable ground, and any attempt to drive around barricades, especially in this area, is dangerous and puts your life and the lives of our first responders at risk. 

Sand Bag Locations

Tulsa – Oral Roberts University Mabee Center parking lot, 7777 S. Lewis Ave., open 24/7
Jenks – Jenks Softball Field, 1701 N. Birch St. For the Jenks location, bags are available to fill, but the public is responsible to bring their own shovel(s). The weekend hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  
Bixby – White Hawk at Highway 67 and South 49th East Avenue. Limit 25 bags per vehicle.   

Shelters and Donations

At this time, there are two evacuation shelters in place - Crosstown Church of Christ, 3400 E. Admiral Place, Faith Church, 1901 West 171st St. in Glenpool.

A third shelter will be established and announced if needed.

ADA service animals can be taken to the shelter locations.

All other pets can go to the temporary shelter at Tulsa Expo Square Fairground Pavilion (south entrance) from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The temporary pet shelter at the Fairground is accepting pet food, blankets and towels. For large animal shelter requests, please contact 211.

Animal rescue assistance requests can be made by calling Tulsa Animal Welfare at (918) 596-8000, press option 6, beginning at 9 a.m.

Calling For Answers, Help

Residents in Tulsa County with questions or concerns related to the flooding event or evacuations can call 211. 211 is also equipped to take damage assessments and answer questions about donations to those affected by the floods.

Tulsa Community Foundation (TCF) and Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW) have established a Disaster Relief Fund for Eastern Oklahoma to provide assistance to nonprofit organizations which are providing services and support to residents of eastern Oklahoma affected by recent 
flooding and weather events.

Donations can be made securely at www.TulsaCF.org/2019storms. Donations by check should be made payable to Tulsa Community Foundation and include: “Disaster Relief Fund for Eastern Oklahoma” in the memo of the check. Mail checks to Tulsa Community Foundation, 7030 S. Yale Ave., Suite 600, Tulsa, Okla., 74136. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Infrastructure Update

The City of Tulsa is monitoring the flooding situation and City of Tulsa crews have been working around the clock to fill sandbags for the public and for our critical facilities. No issues have been reported at the City of Tulsa or PSO facilities at this time. 

Education and Safety 

  • If you leave your home, take all electric precautions by switching off the main breaker to electricity and disconnect any emergency power system, like generators. 
  • Have a packed bag with prescriptions and clothing for a multiple-day period
  • Charge your cell phones and place them in low-power mode, put valuables in a higher place, bring your pets with you
  • Leave your home with important identification for you and any members of your family and take videos/pictures of your home for insurance purposes
  • If you are an evacuee or someone you know is evacuated and requires home health care and/or in-home hospice care, you need to let your health care agency know where you are sheltering so you can continue to receive services.
  • It is important to have a two-week supply of prescription medication on hand and ready if/when you evacuated. In addition, have copies of all prescription medication with dosage, prescribing doctor, and pharmacy. This includes mental health medications. Communicate this message with those in your life who may need assistance with this. 
  • Communicate with members of your family who need to take these precautions but have physical limitations that may prevent them from doing so.
  • For safety’s sake, assume that any downed utility line is energized with deadly electric current.  Stay away from the line and do not touch it with anything.  Report it to PSO at 1-888-218-3919.

Stay Updated on the Flooding Event

Follow the City of Tulsa on Twitter @cityoftulsagov and visit www.cityoftulsa.org for updates. Live feeds from news conferences are available on the City of Tulsa Gov Facebook.

The City of Tulsa website has a Google translator that can translate all web pages in more than 121 languages. The City of Tulsa is also adding translations of this briefing in various languages to the City’s Facebook page when available. 

Construction crews and the National Guard are working to sandbag the walls on the concrete levee off Charles Page Blvd. just west of 65th W. Ave. Charles Page is shut down as construction crews reinforce the levee.

Related Story: Severe & Flooding Threats Not Over Yet For Eastern Oklahoma 

The Keystone Dam water levels are holding steady at this time, and the levees are holding. The outflow from the dam is currently at 275,000 cfs. At the news briefing, a Corps representative was hopeful that they will be able to keep the release levels at that level until Thursday - however, he said that could be affected by rainfall Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Emory Bryan was at pump station number 1 in Sand Springs on the levee. A sinkhole was discovered by the pump station, but it has been filled.

Related Story: Monitoring Continues As Levee Concerns Grow In Tulsa County 

About 100 National Guard soldiers are patrolling the levees. They are spotting problems very quickly and marshaling their resource to solve them.

Mayor G.T. Bynum posted the following message:

The levee system is continuing to operate effectively. This morning, a sinkhole was identified near Pump Station #1 in Sand Springs around Main Street. Engineers believe this is related to a capped storm water line under the levee, and they have assured me it is not a threat to the stability of the levee.

That said, I continue to encourage people who live behind the levees to proactively relocate. The levees have never been tested like this, and if anything were to go wrong the amount of time to evacuate could be minutes rather than hours. Staying there is an unnecessary risk that you don’t have to take. We have shelters, buses to transport you, and an emergency animal shelter for your pets. These options are all there for you to use, so please take advantage of them. 



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