Residents, camp owners pick up pieces following Illinois River flood

Posted at 5:25 PM, May 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-02 07:11:25-04

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Another flood, another round of devastation for residents along the Illinois River outside of Tahlequah.

As the water recedes, many are still concerned about the days ahead.

“The river level was about a foot below what it was in 2015,” said Sparrow Hawk Camp owner Gene Ellis.

It's a devastating sight that's become too familiar at Sparrow Hawk Camp.

“It started coming up the campground again, as it got into the campground 4-5 feet, trees started falling on the banks, 6-7 feet, 8 feet deep, trees started coming in here, snapping power lines,” said Ellis.

At least a foot of water took over offices and bathrooms, but what the flood left of the campground is still a mystery.

“Right now, we're just kinda sitting waiting for the water level to go down so we can see the damage,” he said.

That may not happen until at least tomorrow, according to the GRDA.

Floodwaters have crested and are slowly dwindling along Highway 10, revealing what they left behind.

Rocks, limbs and mud litter the the cleanup begins but not before concern about more rain in the forecast.

“I have my phone and I'm always on it. I didn't even sleep last night, just checking it hour on the hour...looking to see if the river is going down, going down,” said Ellis.

It's a daunting view of a river that now runs through camp.

But it's the passion for that same body of water that keeps Sparrow Hawk moving through the devastation.

“People say if you live on the river, you're kinda river people, you know,” said Ellis. “You just have to take the river as she dishes it out.”

The GRDA is bracing itself for the probability for an additional inch of rain heading into late Tuesday night.

Outfitters hope to see what the water reveals late Monday or early Tuesday morning.