A group of southwest Oklahoma City residents says flooding has become more common near Mustang Creek in recent years.
Michael Smith is a geologist and a trustee at the United Methodist Church of the Good Shepard. Last July, the creek’s water level rose until it was about two feet shy of the church door, Smith said, the highest it’s ever been.
Smith and Karen Graves, a fellow church trustee, said the construction of the Kilpatrick Turnpike and other developments in the area is forcing water into the creek, and is creating flooding issues.
“All the water is trying to get through the turnpike,” Smith said. “There's just a lot more volume and speed of water coming through here.”
After storms, sections of the church’s property erodes from the high waters. Smith fears it will only get worse unless infrastructure is made to abate the flooding threat.
“I’m concerned about public safety and about a storm coming through in the middle of a night,” Graves said.
The two, along with representatives of nearby Housing Authorities, wrote to several state leaders including the governor, lieutenant governor, and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority about the issue.
On May 20, more than 150 acres of land sprawled next to stretches of the turnpike will be auctioned off by the OTA.
Smith said the land could be used to help mitigate the increased flooding.
“We’re hoping someone steps up in the Turnpike (Authority) to realize the importance of this,” he said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the OTA said no local government entity has requested the agency retain any property.
“The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority works diligently with our team of Civil Engineers and Hydrologists to have a zero hydrological impact to the drainage areas that the Oklahoma Turnpikes cross. Recently, Turnpike officials met with area residents along with Oklahoma City and Canadian County officials to discuss the context of recent rainfall events and associated concerns,” said Spokesperson Jack Damrill.
“The need to expeditiously return remainder properties not required for the direct operation and management of the turnpike network for private use and purposes is extremely important. However, the Turnpike Authority has no role in determining the future use of those properties and we have not been requested to delay the sale of, reserve or retain any parcels for hydrological or other purposes by the local governmental entities.”