Updates with information on Red Cross shelter, county road information
MIAMI — This was not what Miami and northeast Oklahoma needed.
More heavy rain and a wave of severe storms battered an area Wednesday night that already was soaked.
Miami picked up an additional 3.79 inches of rain overnight — right at the amount that the National Weather Service had predicted earlier in the day.
“They had predicted 3.78, so they were pretty accurate,” said Miami Police Chief and Emergency Management Director Thomas Anderson.
There was a funnel northwest of Commerce and there were sightings in the Afton, Fairland and Wyandotte areas, but no damage has been reported.
The Jay area in Delaware County suffered considerable damage.
“Tornados were popping up left and right. Every time I looked, the NWS was ‘hey, there’s a tornado here,’ and hey, there’s a tornado there,” said Anderson, who had not received an updated total of businesses and homes that have been affected.
Ottawa County Emergency Management director Chad Holcomb reported there was damage throughout the county.
“There were a couple homes damaged and power lines down,” Holcomb said Thursday morning. “I really haven’t had time to make a damage assessment yet.”
The forecast was updated Wednesday afternoon with all the potential rainfall over the next 18 hours.
“For the Neosho basin, that was about 3.78 inches, which is a lot of water, so that took the river really up high,” meteorologist Nicole McGavock with the National Weather Service’s office in Tulsa said during a afternoon briefing with Miami emergency personnel.
“Visiting with the River Forecast Center, they asked if I wanted to bring that down a little bit and I felt it was a better option to err on the side of caution and go a little bit high and if we don’t get that much rain, then we can back down,” she said. “I would rather have folks prepared as opposed to being surprised by it.”
As a result, with no further rain, the Neosho River should be at 24.6 feet — which is in the major flood category — and should crest at 25.6 by Saturday morning.
That’s not quite as high as 1986, when it was 26.23 inches.
The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for families affected by the flood at First Christian Church of Miami, 2424 North Main.
“We are up to 19 sheltered (spending the night) then feeding others who are packing up their stuff and don’t have a way to cook,” Red Cross volunteer Shelba Wall said at midday Thursday.
The shelter will be open around the clock, she said.
“The Salvation Army has been cooking for us at night and bringing us groceries. They are just awesome.”
Wall said that 54 were fed Wednesday.
The Miami Fire Department’s South station was evacuated as well as numerous businesses along Steve Owens Blvd. and in the vicinity of the Miami Fairgrounds.
Inmates from the Ottawa County Jail were used to clear out the fire station as well as Nott’s Grocery.
The landmark Miami store is just north of the fire station.
The MFD as well as the Quapaw Tribe Fire/EMS Department have assisted with countless water rescues.
Anderson said another NWS briefing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The Northeastern Oklahoma A&M campus closed Thursday morning and will reopen Tuesday, May 28 at 7 a.m.
Anderson said pumps at the Miami Swimming Pool were pulled Monday and water had breached the pool Thursday morning.
Saturday was supposed to be its opening day for the summer of 2019.
As of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the Grand Lake level was 754.90 feet. Normally for May 23, it is 743.47 feet.
At the direction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, nine main and three east spillway gates were open at Pensacola Dam, discharging 163,421 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water.
Six units were online at the Pensacola Dam powerhouse, releasing 12,073 cfs of water through generation.
Releases through floodgates and generation totaled 175,494 cfs.
Inflows into Grand Lake totaled 154,919 cfs.
According to the MPD, road closures included: Steve Owens Blvd; 69A at Buffalo Run Casino; A NE; C NE; E NE; Veterans Blvd; 5th and H NE; Newman Road; Central; BJ Tunnell at H NW; 22nd east of the tracks; Brookside; P NW; 2nd and L NW; North Elm; 5th and B SW; South Elm; Rockdale at Tar Creek, and Brookside.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation report for Ottawa County as of midday Thursday was: SH69A northbound and southbound is closed from US69 to SH10; SH10 ½ of a mile west of 540 Road; SH125 at SH10; US69 northbound and southbound from 30 Road to the Oklahoma/Kansas State line, and US69 eastbound and westbound from the Neosho River to NS 545 Road.