MIAMI — Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell has seen one thing stand out as he tours tornado and flood ravaged parts of the state — including Miami.
“You see the Oklahoma standard: you see neighbors helping neighbors,” he said during a Friday stop. “It’s the ‘Oklahoma Strong’ mentality that we have as a state. You always see that with the weather we have. You see that Oklahoma standard.
“Hopefully we are demonstrating that across state lines and across the country of how much our state comes together, regardless of political party or regardless of race, we come together and help out neighbors out. That is the authentic America you get right here in Oklahoma.”
Pinnell was shown flooded areas Friday morning by Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd and State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom.
Later in the day, Pinnell addressed delegates at the 80th annual Oklahoma American Legion Boys State at Northeastern A&M — an event that had to adjust schedules some because of flooding on campus.
The National Weather Service was not expecting the Neosho River to drop below flood stage until sometime Wednesday — but that all hinges on additional rainfall.
Rain in the forecast for much of the week.
The Neosho River at Stepps Ford Bridge near Commerce was at 20.52 feet as of 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
The level is expected to drop to 12.0 feet by Friday afternoon.
Moderate flood stage is 18.0, minor is 15.0 and action flood stage is 14.0 feet.
At least 50 residences and numerous businesses, most located along Steve Owens Blvd. and South Main, have been affected by the floodwaters.
For a brief time, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority suspended tolls between Miami and Afton to help out motorists.
SH-125 a mile south of SH-10 and 59/SH-10 a mile west of US-69 near Miami remain closed.
“When you shut down roads, you bring Route 66 to this equation as well,” Pinnell said. “Route 66 is red hot with summer coming. You have a lot of folks wanting to travel ‘The Mother Road’ that haven’t been able to do it in Miami because of being diverted. That is something we are sensitive to: those are valuable sales tax dollars that the city is not getting because of the water.”
Reports of damage should be forwarded to www.damage.ok.gov or call 2-1-1.
This can be used to report residential, business or agricultural damages.
Pinnell said the state insurance office has been working with FEMA on assistance.
“We had a very quick response from the White House when it comes to federal funding,” Pinnell said. “We are making sure the resources are there at the federal level and making sure we are meeting with homeowners that either had flood insurance or did not have flood insurance. There are only about 14,000 homes in the state of Oklahoma with flood insurance and we have 1.1 million homes. That is something we are looking at as well; where can the state help?
“As the lieutenant governor, I just want to make sure we are visiting all these communities, meeting with all these business owners along the routes that have been affected. It is a big economic hit to the state when you have to shut down a hotel or a restaurant for weeks at a time. We have that happening in a lot of these communities. We want to make sure we can help as much as we can from the state level.”
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reports that there were six fatalities and 118 injuries attributed to the flooding and severe weather.