Ns News Online Desk:Every single county in Oklahoma was under a state of emergency Tuesday due to flooding and “severe weather impacts” — including hail storms, tornadoes and powerful straight-line winds — officials said.
At least six people have died and more than 100 injuries have been reported over the past few days, and the number could very well go up by the end of the week.
“We still have water rising in the east,” warned Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday. “We are not out of the woods yet.” All 77 counties in the Sooner State were under a state of emergency as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Department of Emergency Management.
“Under the Executive Order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions,” the agency said in a situation report. “The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.”
Oklahoma has been getting hammered by bad weather since April, according to officials, with President Trump approving an emergency declaration for 10 counties on Saturday. “FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” the White House said in a statement. “Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.”
Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms have been reported in the cities of Tulsa, El Reno, Muskogee, Guthrie and Stillwater, to name a few — with more than 1,000 homes flooded, officials said. The fatalities were reported in the counties of Payne, Mayes, Kay and Canadian. They include a 77-year-old woman, a 5-year-old girl and several people in their 50s.
At least 2 dead, dozens injured as violent tornado rips through Oklahoma
“Our prayers are with those who lost loved ones and those who remain in the hospital recovering,” tweeted Stitt. “Most importantly, thank you to the local first responders who saved lives…pulling people out of the rubble and working around the clock this weekend to ensure everyone was accounted for.” Officials urged residents on Tuesday — especially those living along the Arkansas River corridor — to “prepare for the worst-case scenario” as meteorologists expect even more rain to move through the region late Tuesday into Wednesday. “We are planning for and preparing for the flood of record,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum at a press briefing. He wrote on Facebook that the city’s levee system had been “operating effectively.”
“That said, I continue to encourage people who live behind the levees to proactively relocate,” he explained. “The levees have never been tested like this, and if anything were to go wrong the amount of time to evacuate could be minutes rather than hours. Staying there is an unnecessary risk that you don’t have to take. We have shelters, buses to transport you, and an emergency animal shelter for your pets. These options are all there for you to use, so please take advantage of them.”