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Barges loose from port, headed toward Webbers Falls Lock and Dam

Posted at 9:05 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 06:42:15-04

WEBBERS FALLS, Okla. — UPDATE: At 4:41 a.m. the Oklahoma Highway Patrol confirmed that the barges were spotted on Spaniard Creek just northwest of Webbers Falls dam. Officials are evaluating situation.

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ORIGINAL STORY: Two barges on the Arkansas River at Port of Muskogee have gotten loose in rising floodwaters, the Muskogee County Sheriff has confirms.

Emergency personnel say the barges are headed toward the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam 16, which is a significant concern. Webbers Falls is under a mandatory evacuation as the city already is bracing for major flood damage.

The NWS tweeted that the Arkansas River at Muskogee has reached its second-highest level in recorded history.

Around 10 p.m., officials said the barges were going downstream at 12 mph. About an hour later, they said they lost sight of them down river and are hoping they might be stuck and their progress impeded.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has closed Interstate 40 in Muskogee County and the westbound and eastbound lanes at Mile Marker 297 near Vian in Sequoyah County are shut down because the barges are headed to that location.

For historical reference, the I-40 bridge in Webbers Falls was hit by a barge in May 2002, which killed 14 people when the bridge collapsed.
RELATED STORY: Town of Webbers Falls under evacuation

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