Officials Encourage Flood Preparation as Keystone Dam Releases Go to 250,000 CFS

May 23, 2019

Warning sign at Keystone Dam
Credit U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Water releases from Keystone Dam will reach 250,000 cubic feet per second on Thursday, raising flooding concerns along the Arkansas River in Sand Springs, Tulsa, Jenks and Bixby.

Water flowing into Keystone Lake should peak this afternoon around 320,000 cfs, enough to fill the BOK Center in under four minutes. David Williams with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said increasing releases from 215,000 cfs is part of the balancing act to keep Keystone Dam from failing.

"I have good confidence that we’re going to remain at [250,000] and continue that through the weekend. Now, one thing you have to keep in mind is additional rainfall above the dam is problematic. So, we are always cognizant of that," Williams said.

Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Joe Kralicek said more people along the Arkansas River in Sand Springs, Tulsa, Jenks and Bixby will see increased flooding as a result.

"We’re not doing a mandatory evacuation, we’re not going to force people to leave, but you should take some precautions to save your life. If the water’s coming up, you need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice," Kralicek said.

Uniformed Tulsa police or sheriff’s deputies will make evacuation notifications as needed, and residents should be prepared to be out of their homes a week or longer.

Preparations include packing a bag with clothes and two weeks' worth of medication, taking photo ID, making a home inventory for insurance purposes, charging electronic devices and moving valuables to high places in your home. If you must leave your home, turn off electricity at the breaker and bring your pets with you.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said property damage within the flood areas is inevitable.

"Property is a dollars and cents issue, but a human life, you can never replace that. And the way that you endanger a human life in a situation like this is if folks aren’t prepared and they don’t follow the directions that are received to evacuate if they receive them," Bynum said.

The City of Tulsa has released updated flood projection maps, which Bynum encourages residents to review. The Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency will be sounding flood warnings on sirens near the Arkansas River every 30 minutes from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to increase awareness of the situation.

Tulsa County residents with flood concerns are welcome to call 211 for information.