Tulsa officials review flooding plans

Friday, September 23rd 2005, 10:24 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's emergency management started planning for a flood that's not coming now, but the planning could pay off the next time it floods.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says city crews were out making last minute checks Friday of places where flooding might be a problem - like bridges where debris can block the flow of water. But with the forecast now for little or no rain - a meeting to handle the emergency turned into a planning drill for a very unlikely disaster.

Tulsa’s Homeland Security chief Dennis Beyer: "It's not looking like it's going to happen, but we're going to be ready.” For now the key message they have for the public is to stay out of flood water. Beyer: "People don't realize the power of water, two feet can wash a car away and just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet."

A room at Tulsa’s Fire Department headquarters was filled with the people who would make many of the key decisions for Tulsa in a disaster. For a flood, much of the planning is already done. Paul Zachary with Tulsa Public Works: "And we have identified streets that more commonly flood, there are 50 of them where we will place barricades in the event we get some intense rainfall."

One of Tulsa's flood hazards - the Arkansas River, is now largely controlled by the dam on Lake Keystone. For now, the gates are closed to hold water because of the dry weather. If the forecast was to change, the Corps of Engineers is ready to open the gates on Keystone and make room for whatever might come.

Tulsa's emergency managers are confident they're ready - but they want to make sure the public is too. Tim Lovell with Tulsa Citizen Corps: "A typical survival kit, with water, food and whatever you need for three days."

The only Tulsa area lake that doesn't have room to spare is Lake Oologah, where the Corps of Engineers is still releasing water.

Tulsa's emergency managers could have canceled Friday's meeting because of the forecast, but they figured it was a good exercise because Tulsa will have flooding - it's only a matter of when.