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Environmental assessments to begin for flood buy-out program

Steve Piltz
Flooding at the confluence of the Arkansas, Neosho, and Verdigris rivers in Muskogee, Oklahoma in May 2019

The owners of more than 170 homes have signed up to have their flood-prone properties bought by Tulsa County.

A federal grant of more than $14 million will be used in part to return back to green space properties around the Arkansas River and other flood zone areas. Joseph Kralicek, Tulsa Area Emergency Management executive director, says the county is gearing up for assessments.

“Now we’ve got the list of the people interested in being bought out, and we’re going to start this month our environmental assessment of those properties to make sure there are not any sort of hazardous materials on those sites,” said Kralicek.

Kralicek says the county has enough money to buy 60 to 65 homes. They’ll be selected by how flood-prone they are and how affected they were by the 2019 flood.

“For example we’re looking at properties that are in the 100-year floodplain that took flood damage first [in 2019] that are currently uninhabited, those are going to be our biggest priorities. Then we’ll move down that priority list,” said Kralicek.

Kralicek says TAEMA is always looking for funds for mitigation and he hopes there will be a second round of buy-outs at some point.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.