Webbers Falls Residents Ordered To Evacuate Immediately; Town Faces 'Catastrophe'
The town of Webbers Falls is telling its residents to evacuate immediately as of Wednesday night because of loose barges along the Arkansas River headed for a dam.
This is the message they posted to Facebook as of 8:49 p.m.:
Evacuate Webbers Falls immediately. The barges are loose and has the potential to hit the lock and dam 16. if the dam breaks it will be catastrophic!! Leave now!!
At 10:27 p.m., the National Weather Service and area emergency managers used stronger language, making the evacuation 'mandatory.'
This is the entirety of the NWS' message:
THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF THE
MUSKOGEE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT.
THIS IS A MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER FOR THE TOWN OF
WEBBERS FALLS AND NEARBY AREAS WEST OF THE ARKANSAS RIVER.
HISTORIC AND LIFE-THREATENING FLOODING IS NOW OCCURRING ON
THE ARKANSAS RIVER. SIGNIFICANT FLOODING IN THE TOWN OF
WEBBERS FALLS IS IMMINENT.
A MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE ENTIRE
TOWN OF WEBBERS FALLS AND SURROUNDING AREAS.
RESIDENTS IN THIS AREA SHOULD ACT NOW AND EVACUATE WEST AND
SOUTH ALONG HIGHWAY 100 TO INTERSTATE 40 AWAY FROM THE ARKANSAS
RIVER AND AWAY FROM WEBBERS FALLS.
A SHELTER FOR EVACUEES IS OPEN IN WARNER AT CHURCH ON THE WORD...
LOCATED AT 1511 CULWELL ROAD...WHICH IS NORTH HIGHWAY 64.
IF YOU REQUIRE ASSISTANCE WITH EVACUATION, PLEASE CALL 2-1-1.
REPEATING...A MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR
THE ENTIRE TOWN OF WEBBERS FALLS AND SURROUNDING AREAS. EVACUATE
NOW. THIS IS A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION.
STAY AWAY FROM RIVER BANKS AND FLOODED AREAS.
NEVER DRIVE INTO FLOODED ROADWAYS.
The barges went under the Highway 62 bridge and were headed towards the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam 16 earlier in the evening. News 9 confirmed that Life Flight is flying overhead, trying to locate the barges, so first-responders will know where they are and see their path.
The City of Webbers Falls believes that if the barges impact the dam, it would be catastrophic. However, the lockmaster in charge of Lock and Dam 16 believes the worst-case scenario would be to break a couple of the gates.
Muskogee's police chief said that if it misses the Lock & Dam 16, the next thing the barges will hit will be the Interstate 40 bridge. The Oklahoma Highway Patrols is on standby to block traffic there should that happen.