Tulsa Area Flooding Dominates the News

INFORMATIVE PRESS CONFERENCE: Governor Kevin Stitt, Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum held a press conference May 22 at the Oklahoma National Guard aviation facility in Tulsa to discuss their aerial tour of the tornado and flooding damage across Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma. From left are Bixby Mayor Brian Guthrie, Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Director Mark Gower, Governor Kevin Stitt, Director of Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency Joe Kralicek and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum.
RISING RIVER: Water was rushing out of the Keystone Dam at a rate of 250,000 cubic feet of water per second in late May. Due to the additional release at Keystone Dam, residents and businesses along the Arkansas River were asked to remain vigilant and take precautions.
HIGH WATER ALONG RIVERSIDE: Arkansas River water threatened River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, but the resort withstood serious damage. River Spirit CEO Pat Crofts reported, “While the photos and videos may appear alarming, we want to reassure the public that River Spirit, including the 27-story hotel, Margaritaville and Ruth’s Chris restaurants, and both our gaming floors remain unaffected by the water surrounding our property.” He added, “River Spirit and all of our facilities are structurally sound. The design and engineering of River Spirit was built to withstand a 100-year flood and any severe weather-related event.”
Courtesy Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa-City County Library and Tulsa Historical Society
SANDBAGGING IN 1957: Volunteers place sandbags along Riverside Drive, looking north, in May 1957. The Arkansas River crested at 20.4 feet, according to news coverage; flood stage was 19 feet. In 1964, the Corps completed Keystone Dam 15 miles upstream from Tulsa. For years to come, Tulsans would believe that the Arkansas River was forever tamed. The Keystone Dam has been very beneficial, though flooding has persisted in areas such as along the Mingo watershed and in relatively recently constructed low-lying housing additions in Tulsa County.
ROAD CLOSURES: There were several road closures and inaccessible areas throughout the greater Tulsa area. This sign was posted in Owasso. Other areas of road closures included around the Keystone Dam in Sand Springs and western Tulsa County, areas around Riverside Drive near downtown Tulsa, South Elwood Avenue near 51st Street, and the Cherry Hills neighborhood as well as areas in Bixby.

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