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Officials preparing for storms, possible flooding in Arkansas River

Posted at 5:40 PM, May 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-14 18:40:54-04

KEYSTONE LAKE, OK (KJRH) — As Keystone Dam continues to pour out huge amounts of water, officials are now looking ahead to prevent flooding as rain is expected this weekend.

Hundreds of people stopped by the dam Tuesday to see the water gushing at 100,000 cubic feet per second. Officials say the water could remain at that rate until the ends of the week.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa Division, the priority right now is leveling Keystone Lake without flooding everything downstream. That means the dam will continue to let out water until the lake begins to recede. At the current rate, without extra rainfall, that should happen by the end of the week, when officials plan to cut back on the water flow.

For the Arkansas River, a late-week cutback means the water level should remain where it is for the rest of the week, and then begin to recede. Right now, it's at 14.7 inches above normal stage, just inches below the point where it’s considered flooding.

"We want to be on top of it and be ready to go, just in case the water does come up," said Joseph Kralicek, TAEMA Executive Director. "We don’t believe it’s going to, and we want to urge everybody to take precautions and stay aware, but not to be too alarmed.”

When the Arkansas River goes above 15 feet over normal stage, it’s considered flooding. On Tuesday it was at 14.7 feet above normal, which has more than a dozen organizations watching key flooding areas.

Those areas include the Bixby sod farms, which are in danger when the river is 16 feet above normal, the old railway between Bixby and Leonard at 17 feet, and the river parks area at 18 feet.

Officials are pumping out water in areas prone to flooding, and asking anyone in those areas to make an evacuation plan in case the water begins to rise.

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