OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Muscogee (Creek) Nation Lighthorse Police Department worked around the clock the morning of May 5 when heavy thunderstorms swept through Okmulgee county. Patrolmen across Indian Country kept a close eye on the storms to provide updates to central dispatch. MCN Lighthorse Police worked with state and local officials to perform water rescues to stranded motorists stuck in the floods.
According to Officer Dennis Northcross, patrolmen were more than prepared to help during severe weather conditions, having dealt with the same issues the previous year.
Thunderstorms were responsible for severe flood damage, including the MCN Tribal Complex. One of the hardest hit buildings included the Lighthorse Police Department. The department building sustained water damage, as well as damaged police equipment. This forced the department to relocate buildings. The street the department building is located on, Miami was covered in near waist-high waters making the road impassable to motorists.
As Mvskoke Media was talking with Lighthorse officials, a motorist in a tan sedan was spotted driving south on Miami St. into the flood waters. Officer Northcross immediately ran outside to alert the motorist that it was unsafe to proceed. The car then stalled in the tall flood waters, the motorist was unaware the road was impassable. Officer Northcross walked over to the stranded car, and proceeded to help with rescue efforts. The inhabitants of the car included a woman, and two children. They were then taken inside the department building to be examined for medical attention.
According to the National Weather Service, more deaths occur due to flooding than any other thunderstorm-related hazard. The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood waters.
NWS advises motorists to use their trademark Turn Around Don’t Drown method when facing flood waters. If you are driving and see warning signs for flooded areas, do not pass through. Simply turn around, and go the other way. It only takes 12 inches of water to sweep a motor vehicle away.
For more information on what to do in a flood emergency situation, visit: https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood-turn-around-dont-drown.