Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 21, 2007 – 1 p.m. Update #4
Oklahomans continue to recover from the deadly flooding, tornadoes and other severe weather delivered Saturday night and Sunday after the remnants of Tropical Depression Erin moved through the state. Flood waters have receded significantly in many areas.
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) remains activated and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas.
Governor Declares State of Emergency
Gov. Brad Henry yesterday declared a state of emergency for 24 Oklahoma counties hit hard by the severe weather. The declaration is the first step toward seeking federal assistance. The counties included in the state of emergency are: Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Grady, Jefferson, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Stephens, and Washita. More counties will be added as needed.
Injuries and Fatalities
The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office confirms the following six disaster-related fatalities:
A man found in his vehicle near Omega in Kingfisher County
A woman found in her storm cellar in Fort Cobb
Three women found in their vehicle near Carnegie
A woman found in her vehicle in Seminole
The victims were recovered Sunday and the cause of death on all is drowning.
Two Watonga residents were injured after their home was destroyed by straight line winds or a possible tornado. The two were treated for reportedly non-life threatening injuries at the hospital in Watonga.
OEM continues to work with local and federal officials to complete preliminary damage assessments (PDAs). Yesterday, PDAs were completed via an Oklahoma National Guard Blackhawk helicopter for Blaine, Caddo, Grady and Kingfisher counties. A joint team of OEM, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Small Business Administration officials completed the aerial survey due to high water in many of the areas. OEM anticipates having a preliminary report on the number of homes and businesses damaged and destroyed by tomorrow. PDAs are also underway to identify infrastructure damage left behind by the storm.
OEM has generators in the Blaine County communities of Geary, Greenfield and Watonga to support water treatment plants, shelters and other emergency operations.
The Oklahoma National Guard continues to support disaster recovery efforts with two water trailers and support personnel in Geary; two water trailers and support personnel in Calumet; two water trailers and support personnel in Canadian County; and tents in Kingfisher.
According to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, there are no reports of leaking oil or natural gas wells related to the flooding.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports 2,721 homes and businesses are without power across the state. At the height of the power outages more than 20,000 were without electric service.
Municipal Electric Service of Oklahoma reports power outages remain for the Watonga Electric System. There 1,783 customers are without power. This includes all residents in Watonga.
OG&E has 396 customers without power including 113 in north Oklahoma City and 103 in Enid.
The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives reports 346 customers remain without power in the Caddo and Cimarron electric service areas. Caddo Electric Cooperative has 19 outages. Caddo Electric is headquartered in Binger and serves in all or parts of the following counties: Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Comanche, Carter, Custer, Grady, Kiowa and Washita. These outages are a combination of residential homes and water wells. Cooperative crews expect to have nearly all customers back online by the end of today, if all of the meter and service locations can be accessed for repairs. Cimarron Electric Cooperative has 327 outages in rural areas near Faye, Geary and Watonga. Cimarron Electric is located in Kingfisher and serves in all or parts of the following counties: Blaine, Canadian, Custer, Dewey, Garfield, Kingfisher, Logan, Major and Oklahoma. Crews hope to have all electric power restored to all meters which can be safely energized by end of day Thursday; however, due to washed out bridges and inaccessible roadways, some could remain without power for longer periods of time.
PSO has 196 customers without power including 181 in the Chickasha area.
Shelters and Mass Feeding
The American Red Cross continues to operate the following shelters to assist those displaced by the storms:
El Reno -- Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the 200 block of South Evans and at the Northwest Community Center, 520 N. Grand
Kingfisher – Kingfisher County Fairgrounds
Watonga – First Baptist Church is a shelter
Additionally, the American Red Cross is supporting a shelter in Fort Cobb at the Caddo-Kiowa Technology Center on Career Tech Road.
The Oklahoma Southern Baptist Men are operating a feeding center at Saint Rose Catholic Church, 900 Clarence Nash Boulevard in Watonga.
Updates on Oklahoma highway conditions continue to come in from Oklahoma Department of Transportation field crews. Motorists are advised against driving into water on roadways and urged to obey all road closing signs and barricades. Currently, the following roads are reported closed:
Oklahoma City Metro Highways
SH-152, between Manning & Evans Rd. (which is between Union City &
Mustang) due to a collapsed drainage structure (will be closed several days)
Open to local traffic only.
Eastbound through traffic is being diverted at US-81 in Union City; westbound traffic is being diverted at SH-92 in Mustang.
Statewide Highway Closings
SH-33 east of Watonga (1.5 miles west of the Kingfisher County line) Bridge repairs are expected to be completed by Wednesday evening, but a nearby body of standing water could delay reopening of the highway an extended period.
SH-5B north of Taylor (between mile marker 1.5 and 2.5) Closure expected to continue at least through today.
US-81 south of Minco at Buggy Creek Bridge (1.5 miles south of SH-37) Closure expected to continue through mid-September.
SH-102, west of Tecumseh (4 miles south of SH-9) Closure expected to continue through today.
Flood Precautions Urged
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reminds residents of the following precautions regarding flooding.
If you come upon an area covered with water, turn around. Do not try to drive through or walk through the water and never go around barricades. A mere six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away a vehicle. So practice the “turn around, don’t drown” technique.
Do not allow children to play in or near floodwater or storm drains.
Disinfect all furniture, woodwork and other household surfaces in homes that have flooded.
Disinfect children's toys with a solution of one-cup bleach to five gallons of water. To prevent producing toxic fumes, do not mix bleach with products that contain ammonia.
Wash hands frequently during cleanup to lessen recontamination of cleaned areas.
To prevent allergic reactions and other health problems caused by mold, replace porous wallboard (from at least 12 inches above the waterline) that has been flood-damaged. For more information on mold, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/protect.asp.
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, do not burn charcoal or use gasoline-powered generators or pumps indoors.
Try to rest and conserve energy and avoid heat stress. Persons with heart conditions and other illnesses should avoid strenuous exertion.
Remain calm. Signs of anger and depression are normal under catastrophic conditions. Sensitivity to the stress felt by others can help restore calm.
The National Weather Service reports Tropical Depression Erin moved onshore on the Texas coast on Thursday, Aug. 16 and moved west and northwest before turning to the northeast. The center of the circulation with Erin moved into southwest Oklahoma between Hollis and Erick late Saturday night. It became much better organized between 1 and 7 a.m. Sunday as it moved from near Clinton to near Geary, and then across northern Canadian County into northwest Oklahoma City. While it’s not unusual to see the remains, the clouds or moisture from a tropical storm or hurricane affect Oklahoma, it is quite rare to see a storm re-intensify like Erin did Saturday night and Sunday morning. The radar images showing an eye, and the bands of rain rotating around it were quite remarkable, and meteorologists will be studying this event closely. A cold front may move through the state this weekend providing a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms.
Be Ready for the Next Storm with a NOAA Weather Radio
This past weekend's weather highlights again the need for people to stay informed about their local weather. Erin brought deadly flooding, damaging winds and even tornadoes to the state, and much of this dangerous weather happened after most people had gone to bed. The National Weather Service and OEM remind Oklahomans that a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm can lives during hazardous weather.