Rain-swollen rivers crest, but anxiety remains high


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Flooding slowly subsided Wednesday in several northeastern Oklahoma communities but meteorologists predicted more problems because lakes and reservoirs were already filled to capacity.

Water also was ebbing in southeastern Kansas, but more rain fell Wednesday on hard-hit Texas.

The Neosho River at Miami crested at about 29 feet, its highest stage since 1951, before beginning its decline.

“We’re starting to see an average drop of about a half-inch every hour,” City Manager Mike Spurgeon said.

A shelter set up in the city housed about 55 people Tuesday night, and flood damage was expected to affect about 600 homes, Spurgeon said.

About 50 Oklahoma Army National Guard troops worked 12-hour shifts providing security in flooded neighborhoods.

More than two weeks of soaking weather has caused widespread flooding in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Monday was the 20th straight day that rain had fallen in Oklahoma City, but Tuesday and Wednesday were dry.

While the wet weather had moved out of Oklahoma, more locally heavy rain spread across wide areas of Texas on Wednesday, causing minor street flooding.

At least 20 Texas counties were under flash flood warnings, and the Trinity River in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was expected to crest at 37 feet during the night, about 7 feet above flood stage.

The 42,000 gallons if crude oil spilled into the Verdigris River when flash flooding hit a refinery in Coffeyville, Kan., had mostly dissipated and there was no indication any of the oil reached Oklahoma’s Lake Oologah, a source of municipal water for Tulsa and other communities, officials said Wednesday.

Experts believe the thick, sticky oil had been captured by trees and other vegetation upstream from the lake, said Skylar McElhaney, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Quality.

The Caney River was still rising just north of Tulsa, threatening homes northeast of Collinsville.

Water was receding at Osawatomie, Kan., as drainage structures were opened on the Pottawatomie River, and power had been restored to about 60 homes, allowing those residents to return, Miami County officials said in a statement.

At least 1,000 people were out of their homes throughout southeast Kansas, said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas adjutant general.

The weather has been blamed for 11 deaths in Texas in the past two weeks and two people are missing.