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River flooding impacts float operators in Tahlequah

Posted at 8:07 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 21:07:11-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Illinois River near Tahlequah reached flood stage today after this week's heavy rain and it's already receding. Now clean up begins.

The rain has caused some major flooding for floating businesses here in Tahlequah.

“We’re looking at what what all we’re going to start dealing with when we clean up as this recedes,” Asa Pendley, manager with All American Floating said.

At first glance, it may seem like a lake, but it's actually one of several floating operators along the Illinois River submerged in flood waters.

“It was coming in really fast yesterday morning,” Pendley said.

Asa Pendley is the manager of All American Floats. He said they started preparing for the high-water event early last week and managed to save their floating equipment from flood damage.

“The equipment itself is the first priority, that’s what keeps us in business,” Pendley said.

He said when the water started rising too quickly, they could not get everything out in time. He said two buses they use to haul people and equipment up the river were stuck in the mud and ended up submerged.

Pendley said their official opening date was May first, but the rain has delayed that.

“It’s been a tough season so far,” he said.

GRDA said this round of rain sent the river about 20 feet above normal, but Pendley is confident they will rebound because that's what Oklahoman's do.

“We’ll make it through it, we always do,” Pendley said.

They said a lot of clean up will be involved, but they will reopen once the water recedes to safe floating levels.

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