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New floods mar celebrations

BY PJ HELLER | VINITA, Okla. | May 12, 2000

VINITA, Okla. (May 12, 2000) -- Exactly one week ago today, Fred and Joyce

Martin were busy celebrating the recovery from a flood which made a

shambles of their home.

The party was in large part to thank all the people who had helped them

after several feet of muddy water inundated their home in May 1999.

Four days after the party, the couple watched as floodwaters once again

threatened their home following an overnight storm that dumped more than 4

inches of rain on Vinita and Miami, Okla. With much of northeastern

Oklahoma already saturated from weekend storms, the new downpour caused

creeks to overflow in four counties, flooded roads and bridges, forced

schools to close and drove residents from their homes.

In Vinita in Craig County, boats were used to rescue people trapped by the

floodwaters. About a dozen homes were evacuated. Nine homes were evacuated

in Miami in Ottawa County when floodwaters got to 3 feet deep.

This week's storms came on the heels of continuous weekend thunderstorms

that dropped 6 to 8 inches of rain on the area. Those storms damaged or

destroyed nearly 400 buildings, according to the Oklahoma Department of

Civil Emergency Management. The storms left one woman dead in Tulsa.

The American Red Cross opened three shelters for an estimated 126 people.

Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating declared seven counties - Creek, Tulsa, Osage,

Wagoner, Pawnee, Okmulgee and McIntosh - as disaster areas.

The hardest hit areas included Sapulpa, Sand Springs, Kellyville, Kiefer

and Bristow in Creek County, where the eight buildings were destroyed, 51

others suffered major damage and more than 100 others sustained minor

damage; Tulsa and Glenpool in Tulsa County, where 112 structures suffered

at least minor damage; Coweta in Wagoner County where 19 buildings were

affected, and Skiatook in Osage.

This week, Keating asked President Clinton to declare three of the counties

in northeastern Oklahoma - Creek, Tulsa and Wagoner - federal disaster

areas, making them eligible for federal assistance.

Keating said the recent storms were "of such severity and magnitude that

the effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state . . . and

that supplementary federal assistance is necessary."

For the Martins, who watched Tuesday as volunteers filled sandbags and then

helped carry out their furniture and other belongings in order to save the

items from the rising floodwaters, there was still something to celebrate.

The water stopped just short of their house.

Posted May 12, 2000


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