Flood Recovery Efforts Now Underway

Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 4:27 pm
By: News On 6

The flooding picture in Ottawa County is continuing to improve. The waters are beginning to recede in Miami, Oklahoma, but hundreds of residents still can't get back into their homes. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports parts of Miami are still underwater, after the Neosho River pushed past its banks, swamping the town.

Miami officials estimate about 500 homes were evacuated and about 1,500 people were displaced. The question on everyone's mind: when will the water go down?

The Neosho River has left its banks, overflowing all over town and driving hundreds from their homes.

"This is as high as it’s been since I've lived here,” said Miami resident Oren Fluke. “It was pretty high in '68. But it didn't even get my garage in '68"

Oren Fluke has lived in Miami for almost 50 years. His yard and part of his garage is flooded, but he says inside his home is dry. Fluke's neighbor wasn't so lucky.

“It's indescribable,” said Miami mayor Brent Brassfield. “We cannot feel your pain, but we are feeling the pain

Miami city officials say they're now in recovery and cleanup mode. They advise residents to stay out of the flood waters, which they call contaminated. And they ask you to not cross city barriers, blocking flooded streets.

Traffic is really starting to pile up along Veterans Boulevard. It is one of the few streets that's not cut off by flood waters. Thirty to 40 roads in Miami are closed.

Jim Paxson and his family left their Grand Lake home because of the threat of flooding, only to find another lake in the front of his parents Miami home.

“It's high. They were amazed it’s got to this level. They've never seen it this level,” Paxson said.

If the weather stays clear, city officials hope the waters will recede by Friday or Saturday.

“If it’s going to be longer we will let you know, but we ask that you continue to be patient as the water moves through our community,” said city manager Michael Spurgeon.

But for homeowners up to their gutters in water, that will only be the beginning.

"What I am doing is I am counting my blessings that we haven’t lost life,” Brassfield said.

The Red Cross says about 55 people are staying at their shelter in Miami, and they're feeding about 250 people.

For those heading back home, they will start handing out cleanup kits Thursday at noon.

A shelter has been set up at the First Christian Church on 2424 Main Street.

For help getting your power back on, call 918-541-2231, 918-541-2214, or 918-542-6685.

For help finding lost pets or to find a shelter for your pet, call 918-541-8521 or 918-5423413.

To volunteer, call 918-542-6685.

Watch the video: Neosho Rivers Crests, Driving Residents From Their Homes

For more flooding information, check out our STORM ZONE web page.