Officials Reassure Arkansas River Safe From Flood

Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 10:43 am
By: News On 6

As flooding woes continue in much of Green Country, there is more reassurance Wednesday from local officials that the Arkansas River is safe. Many residents are noticing the water is swift and high, but there are no flooding fears at this time. The News On 6’s Heather Lewin reports another round of major rainfall could change that.

For many, looking out at the Arkansas River in recent days brings one thought to mind.

"We think about 1986,” said Tulsa County levee commissioner Frank Keith.

The river overran its banks about 20 years ago, putting much of Tulsa and surrounding communities under water. The flood happened when the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to release water from Keystone Lake at a rate of 300,000 cubic feet per second. On Wednesday, that number is hovering around 70,000.

"If we get rain in the local watershed, that concerns me, but right now the corps is doing an excellent job holding water off of people downstream,” Keith said.

Although the Arkansas River is creeping up its banks, the levee is still about a football field and a half away, and even if a higher flow is let out of Keystone Dam, county workers say they're not too worried about the river reaching it.

“My biggest concern about the levee today, I'd like to get up there and mow it,” said Keith.

The levees were put in in 1945. Keith says even 1986 the floodwaters didn't reach the top, although they came within feet, but one didn't hold.

"There were some bad pipes in the levee that collapsed, and the levee breeched, and the volunteers plugged the breech, and we were able to save properties,” Keith said.

He says the inner workings of the levees are now constantly maintained and ready, should the worst happen.

“We're not concerned about any levee failure or anything like that because at this point, the levee is not under pressure,” said Keith.

Levee commissioners say they are worried about people downstream on the Arkansas, after the Verdigris and other rivers and lakes dump into it, drastically increasing the volume.

Watch the video: River Level Nowhere Near Levees

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