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Thirty years ago, extreme rainfall filled Keystone Lake to capacity, forcing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water at a rate of 2.2 million gallons per second. Downstream flooding occurred in Sand Springs, Tulsa, Jenks and Bixby. It has been many years since the last major flood on the Arkansas River in our area. However, the dangers to life and property from another major flood or severe weather event still exist.
Some low-lying areas of Tulsa are subject to flooding from dam failures or high release events. Tulsa is exposed to risk of flooding from failure of five high hazard-potential upstream dams identified through the Oklahoma Water Resource Board (OWRB) Dam Safety Program. The dam posing the greatest threat to Tulsa is Keystone. For a copy of the above map, visit: http://bit.ly/COT-DFmap.
If you’re living or working in these inundation areas, or routinely drive through them, you should be aware of potential hazards and plan the best evacuation routes to keep your family safe. Remain vigilant during inclement weather. Tune in to the local news media for information about potential flooding or dangers from dam failures. Flood sirens will be activated if a breach or high release is imminent. Pay attention to weather watches and warnings.
The City of Tulsa has maps and information on flood-prone areas as well as other flood-related information. To learn more about your risk of flooding, call the City of Tulsa Customer Care Center in Tulsa at 3-1-1 or outside Tulsa at (918) 596-2100 or visit www.cityoftulsa.org/city-services/flood-control.aspx.
To learn more about flood preparedness and safety, visit www.floodsafety.noaa.govv or www.ready.gov.
Most homeowners’ insurance does not cover damage from floods. You can protect your home and its contents with flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). For more information about flood insurance, contact Bill Robison, Floodplain Engineer at (918) 596-9475 or Laura Hendrix, Floodplain Administrator at (918) 596-9685 or visit www.floodsmart.gov.
The Disaster Resilience Network is providing these hazards of the month in conjunction with the City of Tulsa’s Stormwater Drainage and Hazard Mitigation Advisory Board. These hazards are identified in the City of Tulsa Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.
In 2017 the Disaster Resilient Business Council is using Do 1 Thing and their 12 month program to help you get your business ready for a disaster. By taking a small step each month your business can become more prepared for an event that endangers its ability to continue operating. The first step in the plan is Risk Assessment. The key is to identify general hazards, understand major variables that can affect your ability to reopen after a disaster, and to take steps to protect your assets from those hazards. For more information on Risk Assessment visit do1thing.com/topics/risk
We also suggest you look at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Open for Business-EZ and EZ Prep, additional free resources which include an app for your phone: https://disastersafety.org/ibhs-business-protection/ofb-ez-business-continuity/.
The Disaster Resilience Network is partnering with OK VOAD (Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) in sharing preparedness information from Do 1 Thing. “Do 1 Thing is a web-based twelve month preparedness program that focuses on a different area of emergency preparedness each month, and provides a range of preparedness options for each topic. Every month has a low or no-cost option to become better prepared.” The January preparedness message is centered around making a plan. For more information you can view the entire Do 1 Thing article at do1thing.com/topics/plan, and for further information about OK VOAD visit their website at okvoad.org
Graham Brannin, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Environmental Trust and chair of our Disaster Resilient Housing Council was interviewed for a recently published study on “Climate Adaptation: The State of Practice in U.S. Communities.” On December 14, Graham provided an update on community activities related to the document through a webinar hosted by the American Society of Adaptation Professionals. Other Tulsans interviewed for the study were Ron Flanagan, Tim Lovell, Ann Patton, and Bill Robison.
The City of Tulsa and Tulsa Partners (the former name of DRN) are included in this report on climate adaptation in the United States researched by Abt Associates and funded by the Kresge Foundation. The case study references our work with the City of Tulsa Program for Public Information, our Language and Culture Bank (Disaster Resilient Cross Cultural Council), and our business continuity work through the Disaster Resilient Business Council and A Day Without Business.
To see Graham’s PowerPoint presentation and PowerPoint presentations from other communities, go to this link.
If you want to see the report itself, This link gives you access to a webpage with three documents: the executive summary, the full report and the case studies document. Tulsa, Oklahoma is on pages 231 to 238 of the case studies document.
To ensure safe construction and proper installation, safe rooms built or installed within the City of Tulsa are required to have a building permit before construction. This is particularly true when building or installing safe rooms in flood-prone areas. Flood hazards are an important consideration when placing an above or below ground safe room in a new or existing home. Below-ground safe rooms must be designed to avoid accumulating water during the heavy rains that often accompany severe windstorms. Homeowners should contact the City of Tulsa Permit Center at (918) 596-9456 to obtain a safe room building permit. City staff can help you ascertain what additional requirements or restrictions there may be for your safe room if your property is located in a floodplain.
If you already have a safe room at your home or office, you should consider participating in the City of Tulsa’s Storm Shelter Registry. This registry provides information to emergency responders to help them locate citizens after a natural disaster such as a tornado. Having a registered safe room will provide emergency personnel with time-saving information should your safe room be blocked by debris. You can register your safe room online with your City utility account number. After registering, you can call the City of Tulsa Customer Care Center at 311 if you live inside the city, or (918) 596-2100 if outside of the city to request that Tulsa Fire Department personnel visit your home or business and obtain the exact GPS coordinates of your safe room. To participate in the registry, go to https://www.cityoftulsa.org/public-safety/storm-shelter-registration.aspx .
For more information from FEMA on Safe Rooms, please visit https://www.fema.gov/safe-rooms
A version of this article ran in the DRN 2016 End-of-Year Newsletter.
Top photo: Tim Lovell, Dr. Kathleen Tierney and Bill Robison at Centennial Park in Tulsa. Photo courtesy Ron Flanagan
Bottom photo: Dr. Kathleen Tierney, Bill Robison, Laura Hendrix, Dr. Liesel Ritchie and Ron Flanagan at Ann Patton Commons.
The Disaster Resilience Network and the Tulsa community have been offered the unique opportunity to participate in a Return on Investment study funded by FEMA and being implemented by the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Doctors Kathleen Tierney and Liesel Ritchie visited Tulsa in early December in preparation for their research in January, when over 30 interviews are anticipated to take place. The researchers are being assisted by a local team made up of Bob Roberts and Tim Lovell from DRN; Bill Robison, Laura Hendrix and Mary Kell from the City of Tulsa, and hazard mitigation planner Ron Flanagan.
As described by the Natural Hazards Center, “The main objective of the project is to develop methods that could be used to assess returns on investments resulting from “whole community” and resilience-building activities that are designed to reduce disaster losses. This is the first-ever study that seeks to measure outcomes that result from community-based efforts in areas such as disaster preparedness, outreach, partnership building, and public education.”
We hope that this research will help us and other communities to develop measurements for our community resilience. Thank you, Natural Hazards Center, for choosing us!
ADDITIONAL: In a separate development, the White House Office of Management and Budget released a report in December on “Standards and Finance to Support Community Resilience.” As Senior Advisor Samantha Medlock describes, this report is “the culmination of collaboration with leaders in re/insurance, catastrophe modeling, and building science to advance community resilience and insurability.” Included in this short report are references to the work of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s FORTIFIED Home program, one of the initiatives that DRN has worked to support here in Oklahoma.
A version of this article ran in the 2016 DRN End-of-Year Newsletter.
Photo of November 17, 2016 meeting of the Tulsa Area Long Term Recovery Committee
The final unmet needs case of the March 25, 2015 tornado, also known as the Sand Springs tornado, was moving to a close this month. As those who have worked on unmet needs after a disaster, it is not unusual to have cases that go on long past the memory of the disaster fades from public view, a storm which impacted over 300 homes.
Tulsa Area Long Term Recovery Committee Chair Linda Johnston has shared, “Without a doubt the experience from this recovery effort, put us in a much better place for the 2016 north Tulsa Tornados. We learned so much from the Sand Springs recovery and have tried hard to employ all of the great lessons that we learned. The most important lesson for me is that we cannot allow ourselves to be complacent on keeping a functioning and funded recovery plan/team in place. Because the 2015 Long Term Recovery Committee was still functioning when the 2016 tornados hit, we just shifted gears and dove right into the North Tulsa recovery. ”
Like the Sand Springs tornado, the March 30, 2016 EF-2 Tornado impacted about 300 homes, with much of the damage occurring in an area of Tulsa North between 49th Street North on the north, 43rd Street North on the South, Main Street on the West and Lewis Avenue on the East. HUD Qualified Census Tract data for 2014 and 2015 identifies a poverty rate for this area ranging from 35.2% to 67.5%, over two to four times the county average of 14.8%. Although many residents in the area were renters, those who were property owners sometimes did not have insurance. Some people had lease-to-own arrangements where legal work was required to identify whether they had rights as a property owner under the agreement, in order to receive assistance.
As of December 8, we were down to 17 cases in north Tulsa tornado, many of those being processed this month. The goal is to complete the rest by the end of January. This would not have been possible without the work of the City of Tulsa Working in Neighborhoods Department, which has done the bulk of the reconstruction work for those who qualified for assistance.
The Disaster Resilience Network has been proud to serve along side the public and nonprofit sector entities who have assisted in the long term recovery efforts for these two EF-2 tornadoes.
A version of this story originally appeared in our DRN 2016 End-of-Year Newsletter
Photo: DRN Board President Bob Roberts (center) with Tulsa Community Foundation Program Officer Holly Raley and the Advancement Group Founder and CEO Mark Loeber at the December 8, 2016 Tulsa Community Foundation Planned Giving Partnership Program Annual Meeting on the OU Tulsa Schusterman campus.
Happy New Year! We want to take an opportunity to thank our amazing donors, both individual and corporate, who support our resilience activities. Without you, we could not continue our work in creating disaster resilient communities.
Be sure to check throughout the DRN website for the logos of all of our Patron, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze level sponsors. For the first time we have at least one corporate sponsor at each recognition level!!
State Farm, whose logo is located on the right hand side of each website page.
Public Service Company of Oklahoma, which provides office and meeting space and utilities (except phone) and whose logo is located on the right hand side of each website page.
The Brannin Family Foundation, which set up the principal for the Millennium Center Endowment Fund, and Tulsa Community Foundation, which administers it. An annual distribution from this fund is supporting the Disaster Resilient Housing Council and other capacity-building activities. Their logos are located on the right hand side of each website page.
Meshek and Associates, PLC, whose logo is located on the right hand side of each website page.
Key Plus Broadcasting, LLC, which is assisting with Spanish and English media marketing and educational promotion through their radio stations. Their logo is located in the Silver Sponsor Level section at the bottom of the Disaster Resilient Cross-Cultural Council webpage.
The Bank of Oklahoma, whose logo is located in the Bronze Sponsor level section at the bottom of the Disaster Resilient Business Council webpage.
Simpson Strong-Tie, whose logo is located in the Bronze Sponsor level section at the bottom of the Disaster Resilient Housing Council webpage.
To find out more about Corporate Sponsorship Levels, go to this webpage.
Tulsa Community Foundation Planned Giving Partnership Program
We are also thankful to be able to announce our participation the Tulsa Community Foundation Planned Giving Partnership Program. If you are an individual donor, past or present, this partnership program will allow us to provide you with a way to substantially participate in our long term resilience initiatives, with the Advancement Group serving as our Planned Giving Office. We look forward to beginning this partnership in January 2017.
Have a safe and happy New Year everyone!