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Situation Update

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 10, 2007 – 2:30 p.m. Update #9

STORM DAMAGE REPORTS

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) continues to receive damage reports related to the flooding, severe storms and tornadoes that have moved through the state since Friday, May 4. The State Emergency Operations Center remains activated to assist local officials and OEM personnel are in contact with local emergency managers whose jurisdictions remain affected by the storms.

Recovery efforts are underway in many Oklahoma cities, towns and counties including Cache, Indiahoma, Medicine Park, Apache, El Reno and Sweetwater. Additionally, recovery efforts continue in many rural county areas, including those in Beckham, Comanche, Ellis, Roger Mills and Woodward counties.

OEM has received disaster declarations from Comanche County, Beckham County and the Town of Sweetwater.

Weather

The National Weather Service reports, in the past six days, the state has seen an average of two to three inches of rain. The Oklahoma Mesonet Network shows Minco, El Reno and Atoka all received more than seven inches of rain. Showers and thunderstorms remain possible across parts of the state through tomorrow afternoon but only isolated activity is expected. River flood warnings remain in place for some areas of the state.

State Assistance

Gov. Brad Henry’s State of Emergency declaration for all 77 Oklahoma counties remains in effect. The declaration reiterates the availability of all state resources to Oklahoma cities, towns and counties. It provides a formal mechanism for local governments to seek reimbursement for recovery costs through the state’s disaster public assistance program should conditions warrant. The declaration also serves as a prelude to a federal disaster request, should one be necessary.

Sandbags provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continue to assist the City of Bixby’s downtown district. The sandbags were needed because the city’s floodwater pump is not working.

While the water main break has been repaired in Ralston, two Oklahoma National Guard water trailers remain in the Pawnee County town to provide potable water in the event of additional water system damage due to flooding.

Crews from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) have joined Beckham and Roger Mills county officials in assisting the community of Sweetwater. They are taking equipment, including trucks and loaders, to help residents put their lives and property back in order after a tornado struck the community on Saturday. They will be involved in general cleanup of debris and repair as needed, on both public and private property.

Injuries and Fatalities

One fatality and two minor injuries are attributed to the rash of severe weather which began Friday.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner reports a Canute man drown Sunday night following a one-vehicle accident. The man was driving along a county road two miles west and two miles north of Canute when his car was swept off the roadway due to high water during a thunderstorm, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reports.

One man was injured when the truck he was driving was overturned Wednesday morning on I-40 as a tornado passed over the interstate near El Reno, OHP reports. Three other trucks were overturned at the same location. The individual was treated for injuries at a local hospital. His injuries were reported to be non-life threatening. One minor injury was reported in Sweetwater due to the Saturday evening tornado however, the resident declined medical treatment.

Power Outages

None

Shelters

The Great Plains Chapter of the American Red Cross continues to operate a shelter at Cameron Baptist Church in Lawton for individuals who had to be evacuated from their homes due to flooding, loss of power and for those who may have special needs. Red Cross officials continue to monitor locations across the state with a history of flooding and stand ready to open shelters if necessary.

Road Conditions

Motorists are urged to avoid driving into high water. It only takes a minimal amount of moving water for cars to be swept away and there may be unseen damage to the road. Motorists who encounter flooded roads should turn around and find an alternate route. Flash floods are the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the nation.

ODOT reports the following road conditions.

US-60 at Buck Creek, five miles west of Bartlesville in Osage County is closed and expected to reopen on Monday.
SH-5A from US-77 to SH-5, east of Cookie Town, in Cotton County is closed due to the flooding of East Cache Creek.
SH-80 from north of the Fort Gibson Dam to south of Hulbert in Cherokee County is closed due to high water.

Damage Reports

The following reports were received related to the severe weather that occurred Wednesday and today.

Comanche County Emergency Management reports residents and business owners have returned to Medicine Park after yesterday’s evacuation. Comanche County residents continue to report damages to the local 2-1-1 call center. As of 8 a.m. today, 2-1-1 operators received 49 calls requesting information and help due to flooding. Furthermore, the calls document a total of 104 reports of damage, with a majority of callers reporting damage to interior living quarters, apartment structures and roadways or driveways into homes. Losses include damage to carpet, furniture and walls. Two callers reported damage to foundations. One call was from a military member whose truck received substantial damage as it was washed down stream. Still another caller reported flooding had contaminated their drinking water.

Cotton County Emergency Management reports Cotton County Sheriff's Department, County Commissioners and OHP rescued three families from flooded homes. West Cache Creek has gone down but East Cache Creek is steadily rising. Low lying lands and roads along East Cache and Deep Red Creek are flooded and conditions there are expected to worsen. East Cache Creek is expected to crest at 25 feet by Friday.

Ellis County Emergency Management reports clean up work related to the weekend tornadoes continues, however the rain is hampering most efforts. Some of the roads in southern Ellis County are passable; others are only traversable by four wheel drive vehicles. From Saturday night until this morning the county received upwards of eight inches of rain. Flooding continues in southern Ellis County, making travel very difficult. Early damage estimates show more than $500,000 in personal property losses and at least $200,000 in losses to Northwest Electric Cooperative. Road repairs are underway but hampered by continuous rain. Damage assessments continue.

Lincoln County Emergency Management reports 10 bridges and road pipes (tinhorns) are washed out completely. Most of the gravel is gone. On the north side of the county the District One office in Stroud has been completely flooded and carpet, floor tile and drywall, along with furniture, is ruined. There are also damages to citizens’ property to include home flooding and downed trees. Most of the damage is in the northern half of the county.

Pontotoc County Emergency Management reports some road damage due to flooding in the northwestern section of the county. Primary damage is to tinhorns and low water crossings.

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