Fort Gibson residents return to ask city council to fix flooding issues

FT. GIBSON - For the second time in two weeks, people walked back up to the podium Monday at Fort Gibson City Council and demanded answers to their flooding problems.

The mayor and city councilors came to an agreement that the city will pay about $10,000 to figure out a fix.

The city hired private engineer Jay Updike for the study. Updike believes one solution is to expand a box culvert on South Avenue.

Residents there said creek water flows over the culvert when it rains, flooding the street and manholes. They blame the flooded manholes for spewing sewer into their homes.

"My daughter, every time she comes home, wants to put a life jacket on," said resident Kyrstin Willey. "I'm trying to explain to her 'Hey, we don't have to wear a life jacket, and we might not have to move.' That's been the hardest thing, feeling their pain." 

Updike believes expanding the culvert will cost about $350,000, but it's just to find a solution for three homes.

Therefore, other people are not happy, like resident Billy Green.

Green blamed an uptick in building permits and more concrete poured to streamline rain into his house.

"The first year or so I lived there, the house didn't get any water in it.  I started getting water in my house after you raised the road and black toped it and handed out more building permits" said Green.

Mayor Brad Clinkenbeard said he wants to fix the whole city from flooding, a multi-million dollar cost, but Fort Gibson doesn't have the money nor FEMA grants.

"It's hard to make people happy because three's no immediate fix to this. The fix to this is 25 to 30 years coming. Here we are probably a couple years out before it can be fixed" Clinkenbeard said.

As for Wylie and the two other families on South Avenue, city workers raised a manhole in their backyards after she called DEQ.

"My kids don't have a home to come home to, my kids stuff is ruined, my home is ruined. Mama bear will come out- you know," Willey said.
Updike plans to finish his study in September, 90 days from now.

For now, Clinkenbeard said city crews are clearing ditches to make sure limbs and leaves don't back up and cause more flooding.

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