As The Sun Rises The Cleanup Begins

Sunday, May 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAPULPA, Okla. (AP) -- Residents sloshed across sodden carpet and heaped mud-stained furniture in their yards Sunday as cleanup began for hundreds of homes flooded when rain showers turned to deluge.

In Sapulpa, where flood waters intruded into 200 homes and 12 businesses, creeks were back in their banks.

But the brimming tributaries and heavy gray skies Sunday morning gave Creek County Emergency Management Director B.J. Pope reason to worry.

"Until it can run and creeks can be emptied, we're still in danger," he said. "We couldn't stand another 2 inches of rain."

Linda Keeling and Darrel Crossno returned to their Sapulpa home near Rock Creek to assess the damage. A dirty ring on an outside
wall showed where water at least chest-high had flowed.

The stench of mildew spilled into the air when they opened the door.

A TV set lay overturned on the floor. The couch bore a muddy line midway up the back. Mud coated the toilet, the bathtub, the
kitchen floor. Crossno's baseball card collection sat soaked inside a trunk.

The water had just begun to rise when the couple left to get coffee at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. When they returned an hour later, they couldn't get to their house. A dog chained to a porch next door drowned, they said.

Squishing across the muddy yard in new white tennis shoes bought to replace ones lost in the house, Crossno opened the door to the his new pickup truck. A film of pale mud coated everything inside from the seats to the speedometer. Crossno took it all in silence.

The truck, unlike everything else, was insured.

"Looks like we start from scratch," Keeling said, her voice heavy with emotion.

More than 400 homes were affected by flooding in Sapulpa, Kiefer, Glenpool, Skiatook, Tulsa, Sand Springs, Broken Arrow and Coweta, the state Department of Civil Emergency Management reported.

In south Tulsa, a 53-year-old woman drowned Saturday after her car was caught in a flash flood.

Albert Ashwood, head of the state emergency management agency, was in Sapulpa on Sunday to help assess residents' needs. His office already had contacted federal authorities about the possibility of financial assistance for uninsured residents. A joint damage assessment team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program
and state officials was expect to begin work Monday.

"Disasters are not declared on the amount of damage, but the amount of assistance needed," Ashwood said.

The water came fast and was quick to recede.

Many Sapulpa residents were back in their muddy homes by Saturday afternoon. Only two people stayed overnight at an American
Red Cross shelter at a nearby church, officials there said.

Flooding continued Sunday in low-lying areas along Polecat Creek. Fast-flowing waters made a tree-filled basin outside of Sapulpa look like a miniature lake, but the creek was expected to fall below flood stage on Monday.

Highway 20 in a flood-prone area near Skiatook was closed Sunday morning, but local authorities expected no flooding of homes.

Flooding of low-lying land also was expected along Bird Creek extending from north Tulsa to Catoosa, the National Weather Service

The flooding began as slow-moving storms late Friday and early Saturday dumped more than 8 inches of rain in some parts of Creek

Ray and Joan Andis spent Sunday morning ripping up the soaked carpet in their Sapulpa home. In 16 years here, they had never seen
anything like it. The water came up so fast, they had to rescue their 150-pound St. Bernard by boat.

The couple didn't have flood insurance. They hoped to salvage some carpet by stretching it out on the driveway to dry.

"What took six or seven hours to destroy, it's going to take that many weeks to straighten out," Ray Andis said.

Across the street, their neighbor Patty Dunn heaved bloated wet telephone books into a trash bin.

She and fiance Steve Ellis took a firefighter's advice Saturday morning and left as the flood waters were rising. But Dunn said she
waded back in to get her flood policy and called the insurance company.

"I said `I got my policy out. It's dry, and you're going to handle it,' " she said.