Rural Nowata woman billed for water rescue

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Updated: 6/03/2013 11:35 pm Published: 6/03/2013 11:22 pm

More counties in northern and eastern Oklahoma have been added to the governor’s executive order declaring a state of emergency.

On Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin amended the order and added 25 counties to the declaration, bringing the total to 40 counties who faced deadly tornadoes and flash floods since Wednesday.

The declaration is necessary for pursuing federal assistance to help fix roads in places such as Nowata County where emergency crews and city leaders are working to get a closer look at the flood damage in the city and county.

Roads have been damaged and in one part of county one family says when it floods they are surrounded by water.

"We are forced to drive through this or we don't go to work," said Gerald Clark.

He and family live about 6 miles south of Nowata on County Road 27, east of U.S 169.

He showed FOX23 News pictures of the flooded road where on Thursday morning his wife was stranded when she tried to drive through the water.

"This is what my wife went through about two feet of water and she stalled," said Clark.

On Monday, his wife received a $750 bill from the Nowata Fire Department for the water rescue.

"I was really upset because there was no need for it," said Regina Clark.

She says she told emergency crews her husband was on his way and that she didn't need help.

FOX23 News called Nowata City Manager Walter Love who says the bill was a mistake.

Love says typically people who live outside the city limits and do not pay for a fire subscription are billed when the fire department responds to a rescue or a fire. However, since the town and county have been declared a disaster the fee will be paid with money from anticipated federal disaster assistance.

Meantime, Clark says he's complained to his county commissioner on fixing the roads in all directions from his home to be fixed.

"Those people have lived there for 10 years have to go around. It’s not another mile out of their way where there is no water crossing," said Nowata County Chairman and District 1 Commissioner Curtis Barnes.
Clark says he still has to drive through flooded roads to get out onto the highway.

The commissioner says 15 spots similar to ones in Clark’s neighborhood and the county cannot afford to fix it.

"We have to put a bridge in to make it, we can't do that, just for one little spot like that," said Barnes.

Clark says he would like the road to be built up to deter his roads from flooding.

"We could cause him more problems by building that road up, it's just going to backwater close into him,"' said Barnes.

The county commissioner says crews are working fast to grate and "re-ditch" the roads, which could take a week to a month.

Three county roads were washed away and they are working on ordering parts or repairing the metal pipes that help keep the debris from clogging up the creeks.

However, with the threat of weather he is hoping to get those roads fixed before the threat of possible flash floods move in Tuesday night.

"Just crossing our fingers we don't get any rain. We don't need more right now. We pray for the rain and we pray for the rain to stop," said Barnes.

Nowata City Manager says if anyone was billed for a water rescue from last week's floods to call and get it taken care of at City Hall 918-273-3538.

City Manager Walter Love says he is hoping to have a better estimate of the flood damage on Tuesday. He says he knows of 12 homes that were flooded and the water treatment plant was under 10 feet of water.

Counties under the governor’s Disaster Declaration include Adair, Caddo, Canadian, Cherokee, Cleveland, Coal, Comanche, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Hughes, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Le Flore, Lincoln, Logan, Mayes, McClain, McCurtain, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Payne, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Sequoyah, Stephens, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington.

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