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Wagoner County prepares for more flooding

Posted at 9:54 PM, Jun 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-24 23:18:47-04

WAGONER COUNTY, Okla. -- Wagoner County is shifting gears from recovery to emergency operations mode after flood waters moved in overnight.

"It's a little frustrating, it's like we just got home, I want to stay home, I don't want to have to go again," said Rhonda Johnson, a Wagoner County resident.

Rhonda Johnson lives on East 50th Street North, south of the city of Okay. Officials say it's a problem area for flooding in Wagoner County.

"All those rivers merge in one part of our county and they started flooding the roads today," said Heath Underwood, Director of Wagoner County Emergency Management.

During the May flood, Johnson's neighborhood was hit hard. Johnson says the only way in and out of her house was on a kayak.

"It looked like we were an island," said Johnson.

What residents say they don't want to see is more road closure signs due to flooding.

"There’s so many people that have just lost everything and trying to rebuild and see those signs they’re like, ugh no, I’m just starting back over," said Johnson.

Wagoner County Emergency Management announced their switch to emergency operations mode Monday morning.

"Our crews will be out throughout the week marking the water’s edge and seeing how much it’s rising and that way we can get a time frame on it," said Underwood.

Underwood says it's a perfect storm for flooding when they increase water at the Fort Gibson and Keystone Dams.

"People don’t realize that half these roads, once they go under there’s no road there," said Underwood.

During emergency operations mode, two swift water rescue teams are on standby, equipped with three different boats and 12 members on each team.

"All of them saying, oh I’ve lived here my whole life I can get over it no problem, and then they’ll drive out there and we’ll go get them because they’ve washed into the creek or they’ve washed into a wash out area," said Underwood.

During the May flood and into June, crews conducted 71 water rescue missions. Between homes and vehicles, they saved 103 people and 43 animals.

"It’s getting to a lot of our guys so we’re just trying to keep them going," said Underwood.

Drivers can be charged $1,000 for passing through barricades. The fine can go up an additional $2,500, plus jail time, if there are children in the car.

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