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Barges back on the water marking recovery in Muskogee

Posted at 6:16 PM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 19:49:39-04

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Hundreds of millions of dollars were washed away in Muskogee County with this past spring's floods, leaving jobs and local companies on the ropes. But some good news along the river could mark a change of the times for the county.

After five months, barges, excavators, and trucks are back and bustling at the port.

The lapse in barge traffic was tough on companies because not only was it hard on keeping jobs, but it also cost them a ton of money as they have been using trucks and rails to bring in products.

"The total additional cost would be in the 25 to 30 million dollar range," said Port Director Scott Robinson.

11 tow boats are back on the river, but only at half capacity. The extended delay was a lasting effect of the flooding. Raging waters filled the channel with silt, making it impassable for barges. The river is being dredged as quickly as possible, starting south of Webbers Falls.

But business owners learned Wednesday morning the process could last until March, as dredging has just now made it north of Webbers Falls. Until then, they're making do with alternate channels and limited loads.

"You know, it's not optimal," said Muskogee County District 1 Commissioner Ken Doke. "But hey, compared to where we were, we're glad to be here."

With the pace of dredging so far, Robinson hopes to get close to normal operation by the end of the year, even before dredging is complete.

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