Parts Of Highway 48 Become North Canadian River In Okemah

Thursday, June 18th 2015, 6:51 pm
By: Tess Maune

The North Canadian River is well out of its banks thanks to almost six inches of rain falling in Okemah in the past 24 hours.

The Okfuskee County emergency manager said no homes are in danger, but a section of one state highway has been shut down.

The water along Highway 48 is coming in from every direction and the rain just hasn't stopped, so up is the only place for the water to go.

For now, the North Canadian River is part of a small stretch of Highway 48. It's the third time the road has flooded just this spring.

6/18/2015 Related Story: Flooding Closes Highway 48 Near Okemah

Oklahoma Department of Transportation Superintendent, Charles Smith, said it normally gets quite a bit of traffic, but since about a mile of the road is closed Smith is seeing more snakes than cars.

All the rain, however, has given locals like 8-year-old Jesse Wyrick, something to do.

Tess: “If you were on the other side of those trees, the water would be taller than you. How tall are you?”
Jesse: 4-foot-3, I think.
Tess: 4-foot-3. So we know down there the water is at least four feet and three inches.

And with that, Jesse knows playing in the water is off limits.

“It would wash me away,” he said.

He also understands the highway being shut down means his dad has to drive an extra 40 miles to get to and from work.

“You can't go the quickest way,” Jesse said.

The rain is definitely a pain at this point, but elsewhere in Okemah it's provided a pretty picture of country life.

A flood warning is still in effect, and as the river rises, ODOT workers will stay put, making sure no one tries to chance their way to the other side.

Smith: “Got a guy on each side.”
Tess: “Sit, and wait and watch.”
Smith: “Yeah, that's the way it's been and that's the way it'll be.”

ODOT is not sure how long it will take for the water to recede - could be two days, could be five - it's all dependent on Mother Nature; but to make sure no one tries to cross the highway, ODOT workers will be out around the clock until it reopens.