Tulsa’s 'Disaster Experts' Taking Steps To Prevent Potential Flooding

Tuesday, August 16th 2016, 6:00 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The last major flooding disaster in Tulsa was 1986, and experts are taking steps to keep it from happening again.

People sometimes laugh about no water in the river, but 30 years ago the river caused substantial damage when it flooded.

That's why, even today, the planning is ongoing to repair levees and help people protect themselves.

The Hazard Mitigation Board is always thinking about disaster. They're always looking over Tulsa's readiness for a flood emergency.

One of their key concerns is the levee protecting Sand Springs and west Tulsa.

That section - levee district 12 - was built in the 1940s and hasn't been substantially improved or repaired since.

Tulsa floodplain engineer, Bill Robison said, "We definitely recognize the risk there and that something needs to be done. We don't know exactly what kind of rehabilitation we'll do until we get the studies back and see what it's going to cost.”

After years of planning, there's finally money coming to make repairs - through Vision and possible matching money from the federal government.

The plan now is to study what it would take to make the levee hold back a 100, 300 or 500-year flood, and, at the same time, educate people that the levee isn't enough.

"It's really a question of personal responsibility for yourself and your neighborhood," said Tim Lovell with Tulsa Partners.

While Tulsa made big improvements to drainage, flooding still remains a real threat.

Lovell said, "It's not a question of if we're going to flood, it's a question of when. So people need to take seriously the idea of preparing for disaster, whether it's fire, flood, tornado or other disasters."

The levee study will take at least a year; repairs will take much longer. That's why people who think about disasters urge people to make planning an individual effort.

There's also a trend of emergency managers directly communicating with people in danger.

A mobile app from Oklahoma Emergency Management can help with that and with making plans.