Weathering the Storm After Historic Flooding

If there’s one thing Tulsans do best, it’s our ability to overcome obstacles. The resilience and willingness of everyone who worked long hours and helped others during Tulsa’s May flooding has been inspiring.
From mid-May to early June, Tulsa experienced severe weather and historic flooding. The Arkansas River was flowing at its fastest rate in more than 30 years, putting lives, structures and areas along the river at risk. Widespread rainfall created a flooding emergency, multiple tornadoes left behind damage, and a 70-year-old levee system put Tulsa to the test. The night of Monday, May 20, severe storms and an EF-1 tornado hit North Tulsa. Then Wednesday, May 22, an EF-0 tornado struck south Tulsa leaving downed power lines and widespread tree limb debris.
Yet, it’s in trying times when you see what a community is really made of. Following days of severe weather, storms, hail, downpours, and fear that the Arkansas River was going to expose Tulsa’s earthen levee system, Tulsans and all of our responders worked together to help our fellow neighbors in these trying times. With patience and after 10 straight days of disaster response, we caught a break in the weather, allowing Lake Keystone to dip below its flood pool, alleviating flooding issues downstream.
I’m proud to say that our operation ran like a well-oiled machine through communication and teamwork to keep residents safe. From different levels of government, to non-profit agencies, to utility companies, the common thread that bound us together was giving everything we had to our community. I’m incredibly grateful for the Army Corps of Engineers who kept us updated throughout the event. I’m also thankful for Governor Kevin Stitt, Vice President Mike Pence, FEMA Director Pete Gaynor, our Congressional delegation, and state legislators for their continued support throughout the event. 
At this point in time, we have now turned to recovery. President Trump approved an Oklahoma Disaster Declaration on June 1, making federal funding available for those affected by the storms.
The primary river flood damage we sustained in Tulsa was our infrastructure. I’m told River Parks estimates close to $8 million worth of damages to their trail systems. As a city, we are looking at approximately $5 million that we will be seeking federal reimbursement for and we are continuing to evaluate damages and expenses from the severe weather events – primarily on roads, storm sewers and our parks.
Following disaster assessments, no residential structures in Tulsa took on water, but areas within Tulsa County were affected and some residents lost everything due to substantial flooding. FEMA has set up a Disaster Recovery Center at Case Community Center, 1050 W. Wekiwa Road in Sand Springs for Tulsa county residents. It’s recommended homeowners, renters and businesses contact their insurance company and register with FEMA prior to visiting the center. To register, visit disasterassistance.gov.
For those interested in volunteering, please call 211. You can also contribute to local non-profits helping in recovery efforts, by visiting tulsacf.org/2019storms.