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Tulsa firefighters prepare for chance of flooding

Tulsa firefighter's swift water rescue equipment
Posted at 3:34 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 19:14:15-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa firefighters are on high alert as the rain continues in Green Country.

With the threat of flash flooding across Tulsa, firefighters are ready to respond if someone gets stuck in high water.

“Just respect the water. Water is very very powerful,” said Tulsa Fire Captain Matt Bell.

Bell leads Tulsa Fire Station 4, normally the first crew called out for rescues.

Bell says there are a number of “hot spots” they keep a close eye on like 81st and Elwood, 31st and Yale and 36th Street North and Lewis.

“Floodwater can be very very dangerous. The unknown as water rises. What’s underneath that water,” Bell said.

Wednesday afternoon, 2 News saw barriers up at 81st and Elwood forcing some drivers to go around. There was shallow water on the road early Wednesday afternoon and a few cars driving through the area.

Bell says even shallow water can prove dangerous.

“Stay out of the water in your vehicle. It only takes 4-6 inches of water and you can float a modern vehicle away,” Bell said.

There are five rescue boats spread out throughout the city of Tulsa. Most Tulsa firefighters are also trained for swift water rescues.

“It’s a dynamic situation when you get into water rescue things can change really really fast,” Bell said.

For severe weather like tornadoes or the floods Tulsa saw in 2019, Oklahoma Task Force One can also step in to help.

“This is our busy season so we make sure that our equipment and rescue technicians are all ready to go,” said Captain Terry Sivadon.

Sivadon is the Rescue Coordinator for OK Task Force 1.

He says first responders are called into disaster situations and help do swift-water rescues, boat operations, and urban search and rescue among other things.

“It’s a great asset for the state and for Tulsa for sure,” Sivadon said.

Firefighters say the ultimate goal is to make sure everyone gets home safely. It’s why they encourage all drivers to turn around and find a different route if they come across water covering the road.

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