Crews Monitoring, Clearing Tulsa Storm Drains

Wednesday, June 17th 2015, 11:18 pm
By: News On 6

As Tropical Depression Bill comes in, Tulsa city crews are keeping an eye on the potential for flooding.

Wednesday, they filled sandbags and made sure equipment was ready to clear debris from ditches and creeks if needed.

For now there aren't any problems - the rain is going into the drains like it should be - but as more rain falls it'll get harder for the city's drainage system to handle it all.

6/17/2015 Related Story: Major Flooding Event Expected Across Eastern Oklahoma

The city of Tulsa is in charge of more than 1,000 miles of ditches and many more miles of drainage pipes.

Many are underneath streets and some dump into the Arkansas River, but all are connected and crucially important in getting rid of flood water.

Manager of Stormwater Maintenance, Roy Teeters, said the city is ready for the storm, but heavy rain can always push the limits.

“Our underground pipe system with the catch basins are designed for normal or moderately heavy rains, there is no way to design a system that will catch everything and make it immediately go away, so our street drains will only drain so fast," he said.

Although you should never drive through it, Teeters said not to be alarmed if you see standing water on city streets.

“Kind of like watching water drain out of your bathtub, it's not going away immediately, going to take a while for it to go away," he said.

While the rain falls, crews will be split in different parts of the city - on stand-by with sandbags and road closed signs - ready to put them up if needed.

The big focus Wednesday was getting equipment ready to clear trees or other debris that could clog up the cities drainage system.

"We have to worry about trees, the large trees that grow near the creek bank. When the bank gets saturated, they are likely to fall into the creek," Teeters said.

Crews work year-round to get a head start on the storms.

"We inspect all the creek channels, clearing out blockages from the creek. If you wait until the day before rain then you miss out," Teeters said.

Of course much more of the work is the aftermath, cleaning up all the tree branches and debris the storm leaves behind.

If you spot a tree down or storm debris you can call the city's customer service care line at 918-596-2100.