MVSKOKE RESERVATION – Winter weather blasted through eastern Oklahoma on the evening of Sun, Jan 21. The precipitation mixed with the frigid temperatures led to freezing rain and accumulated ice. The conditions led to school closures and remote work days for many across the MCN reservation.
Schools around the MCN reservation either had a snow day or distance learning. Tulsa Public Schools students had a day off school, as did Jenks, Union, Broken Arrow, Morris, and Preston. Bixby, Okmulgee and others had distance learning days.
The tribal complex in Okmulgee was initially scheduled for a late opening at noon but due to road conditions remained closed with employees checking in remotely. The College of the Muscogee Nation in Okmulgee sent out a Raven Alert, announcing students and staff would be doing virtual work.
January’s Winter Storms
Sunday night’s storm was a milder repeat of the storms that came through the weekend before. Rolling in late Sunday, Jan 14 the ice and snow led to dangerous commutes for many on the Mvskoke reservation. As temperatures dipped to near zero degrees, snow and ice made driving conditions nearly impossible by Monday.
Schools not closed for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday on Monday, Jan 15 were out for snow days or distance learning. Online class work continued Tuesday, Jan 16 for most as snow accumulated and temperatures continued to hover in the single digits.
The winter weather warmed slightly by Wednesday, Jan 17 with temperatures hovering above 32 degrees for most of the area. However, most schools remained remote because low temperatures in the morning made bus travel in neighborhoods unsafe, ice patches remained in school parking lots, and some area schools suffered burst water pipes.
In Okmulgee, the MCN Tribal Complex was closed Monday and Tuesday, Jan 15-16, other area offices either closed for the day or opened late.
The office of MCN Principal David Hill declared a state of emergency beginning Sunday, Jan 14 and is still in effect. The first executive order of the new year, EO 24-01 engaged the MCN’s disaster mitigation plan.
As previously covered by Mvskoke Media, the MCN Emergency Management Department receives updated information directly from the National Weather Service. MCN Emergency Management Director Bobby Howard explained, “During a disaster a lot of contract requirements are relaxed… and it (state of emergency) allows us to get stuff really really fast,”
It also allows the department the freedom to serve people in need quicker and faster and in areas where the counties are responsible as well. For example, Howard shared that the department was able to take water to Crowmwell recently because of the storm. In the past the department has provided water to counties and municipalities all over the MCN through the disaster mitigation plan. Howard concluded, “It allows us the freedom of movement to support the nation. Without the emergency declaration, I’m not supposed to do those things… We support all of our tribal citizens, but we support all within the nation’s boundaries. If you live in the nation, we’re going to take care of you if you need us.”
For tips on staying prepared for winter weather, see our story on helpful tips to stay warm.