MIAMI — Standing at 2nd and Main in Miami is a huge billboard that asks Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) not to flood Miami and the area.
The Local Environmental Action Demanded (LEAD) Agency will hold a rally at noon Tuesday, Feb. 11 under its billboard on South Main to mark one of the last days it will display the message.
The board, which says “Senator Inhofe: We didn’t elect you to flood us. When Grand Lake levels are high, our community suffers.”
Flood victims from last year’s massive flooding of Grand River and it’s tributaries, especially the Neosho River, Spring River and Tar Creek, will wear t-shirts made for the events that say “I Flood, I Vote” and are orange to reflect the color of Tar Creek, which runs orange because of the high level of iron in the water due to run-off and mine water drainage from the Tar Creek Superfund Site.
At issue is the GRDA’s request to raise the lake level of Grand Lake an additional 2 feet in relicense process currently underway with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) who regulates hydro-electric energy projects like the Pensacola Dam at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.
“The massive flooding last April and May brought home the reason folks in Miami and along the rivers are upset with this proposal to raise the lake higher and Sen. Inhofe’s efforts to protect GRDA from upstream efforts to weigh in on the relicensing efforts,” Rebecca Jim, executive director, Tar Creekkeeper, LEAD Agency, said in a press release.
Inhofe injected himself into the situation when he placed an amendment into the Military Defense Authorization Act recently signed into law. The amendment puts the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of much of the relicensing process and takes upstream concerns out.
It is often speculated that Inhofe’s interest is his big yacht and the need for a deeper lake to float it, Jim said.
GRDA states that the additional lake level is needed to produce the power it needs, due to silting of the lake. LEAD Agency and other stakeholders contend that (and the data from various agency sources indicate) the sediments and water of Grand Lake, Neosho River and Tar Creek are contaminated with toxic heavy metals and create a “toxic flood,” when situations like last year occur according to information in a press release.
“When the Neosho River floods it forces Tar Creek to spill over it’s banks into the neighborhoods of Miami. We have aerial photos of the flood that demonstrate this. The EPA has already spent millions cleaning these same areas up, will they have to do it again someday because these places have been re-contaminated?” said Earl Hatley, Grand Riverkeeper, LEAD Agency.
Higher Ground, a national organization that works on flooding, by assisting flooding victims and community organizations, donated the shirts.
Everyone is invited to attend the short rally. Flood victims will be given t-shirts to wear for photographs.