Flood Waters Swallow Campgrounds Along The Illinois River

Tuesday, April 26th 2011, 9:44 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- The swollen Illinois River has swallowed up a huge swath of real estate in several eastern Oklahoma counties. Most residents are heading for higher ground, unsure of what will be left when they return.

4/26/2011 Related Story: SkyNews6 Shows Devastation Of Illinois River Flooding

News On 6 visited some camp grounds in Tahlequah to see the flooding firsthand.

"We've had more rain through here than we've seen in ages," Terry Vines, Westville Minister, said.

But even that is a titanic task.

"It's just really been a struggle getting everyone out because no one expected it to get this high," Vines said.

Man and machine combined to move motor homes, but some RVs were stuck where they sit, engines flooded and owners fretting.

"I was here last year when it came up and it never got past the edge of the bridge. This time, it's come on up," Robert Howell said.

Cabins have several feet of standing water inside. Terry Vines doesn't live here, but came to help out.

"It's just devastating," Vines said. "Going into a house that's been sitting there after the floodwaters and everything, it just makes you feel so helpless."

Even the homes higher up will still have expensive repairs and the river hasn't stopped rising.

"We've never seen anything like this. I just kept telling my wife, 'nah, it's not going to come up over the levee.'" John Peak said.

On the north side of Highway 62, the river turned this road into a dead end.

Some guys delved into the deluge with kayaks from All American Floats. The business owners hauled their equipment here to escape the floodwater. They're pretty deflated after working nine hours to clear out.

"It was a rush because usually we don't have much notice to get the stuff out and by the time we knew it was already raining really hard," Kyle Eller, with All American Floats, said.

In Tahlequah, the Illinois River will crest Tuesday night.