TULSA, OK – Water covers the roadway up and down Riverside Drive, with some areas experiencing more than a foot of flooding. At the Gathering Place, portions of the riverside walkway were being washing away by the rushing water before yesterday’s increase in release amounts from Keystone.
Officials in the park have also been working to pump water out of the large pond in the center of the property. Water levels have been rising as groundwater from the river seeps into the park. As a result, the park has announced its closure to the public until further notice.
According to the most recent city maps, the area around the pond that was once marked as a protected area could also be flooded with 2-3+ feet of water should the release from the dam be increased to 305,000 cubic feet per second (described by the mayor as a “worst case scenario”).
Currently, the Army Corps of Engineers is releasing 275,000 cfs from the dam, but that may increase as more flooding rains are expected tonight and Wednesday. The Tulsa area is under a flash flood watch until 7AM on Thursday morning (May 30th), with 2-3 inches or more of additional rainfall possible as multiple rounds of severe weather move into the area.
Mayor Bynum said in a statement Tuesday morning that the decision of whether or not an increase in the outflow from the dam is needed will be made after tonight’s storms.
In addition to the Gathering Place being closed, the city has also shut down the whole of the Riverside Park system along both the east and west banks of the river. Levees are also closed to public access. Mayor Bynum affirmed the abilities of local law enforcement to issue citations to anyone caught in these areas.
City officials have issued a “voluntary relocation” of areas along levees A and B around Sand Springs and the west bank. Near 65th West Avenue and Charles Page, National Guardsmen were reinforcing leaking levees with rocks and sandbags. Mayor Bynum said of the encouraged, preliminary relocation “We’re not making anyone leave but we do want everyone behind the levees to know the risk they run by staying there.”
This is a developing story. The Black Wall Street Times will monitor the situation as it continues to unfold.