Downpour triggers flash floods in Oklahoma City
Up to 10 inches of rain pummeled parts of Oklahoma City on Monday, unleashing flash floods that stranded drivers and prompted numerous rescues, including a teenage girl who grasped at tree branches to stay afloat.
Some Oklahoma City streets were deep with floodwaters and rescuers used boats to pull residents and others to safety. Widespread power outages also hit the area.
The downpour came in less than 12 hours, and another 2 to 4 inches were expected Monday night, the National Weather Service said. The average rainfall for the month of June is about 4 inches.
“In less than half a day you’re getting the average for the entire month,” said Rick Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Kristy Yager, a public information officer for the city, said her normally 15-minute drive was pushed to more than an hour Monday morning. As she approached the downtown area, the roads were full of water, she said.
“I’ve never been so scared in my life,” Yager said.
In Arkansas, where deadly flash floods swept through remote camping areas Friday, workers recovered a 20th victim Monday, said Chad Stover, a public information officer with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. The girl was the seventh child recovered from the flood zone.
“The odds of finding someone alive are not remote, but they go down with each passing day,” Stover said.
Through scorching heat, rescue teams continued to comb the dense area near the Little Missouri River for more campers. Officials were set to meet Monday night to decide how to proceed in search efforts Tuesday, said Bill Sadler, an Arkansas State Police public information officer.
Stover said authorities didn’t know how many other people could be found as the water receded.
“Going forward, trying to figure out how many people we should be looking for has been the most difficult part of the task,” Stover said.
At a nearby church, about a dozen family members remained Monday, waiting for word on their loved ones, said Suzanne Horsley, a volunteer with the American Red Cross.
“Now that people feel like there’s a little bit less hope, it’s been an overwhelming sense of sadness in the building,” she said.