OAKS, Okla. – Residents in this small southern Delaware County town have been without a steady source of water since last Wednesday due to drought conditions, but Monday evening two tanker trucks will be brought in to help out in the short term until the situation is resolved.
The town of approximately 421 residents is located within the county’s Rural Water District #12, and Chairwoman Donna Garner said the water level in both of the town’s wells Wednesday fell below a level that the pumps could pull it up.
The Cherokee Nation was quick to truck in pallets of bottled drinking water; however, help from other local and state officials was not immediately forthcoming. “I called Delaware County Emergency Management Director Robert Real, and he told me to call our county commissioner to get tankers brought in. I did talk to Commissioner Duncan on Thursday but was unable to reach him on Friday. When that failed, we tried to call the governor’s office to get the National Guard to bring in tankers and never received a call back,” Garner said.
Garner reported that she was able to get in touch with District #3 County Commissioner Danny Duncan on Monday morning.
On Thursday afternoon Real called local fire departments who went throughout the area to fill containers with water relieving the times the pumps needed to be run in the town to produce water.
According to Real, Duncan called him Monday and asked if Real could get water brought in with tankers to the area. Real called the State office of Emergency Management in Oklahoma City. The EM in OKC called the National Guard and two “water buffalos” (tankers) will be at the Oaks Volunteer Fire Department and the Oaks Mission School. The tankers will hold 400 gallons of water and will be refilled as needed until the water situation in Oaks is resolved.
“The tankers will be in those two locations as of 7 p.m. Monday evening and will stay until they are no longer needed,” said Real. “They are coming from the National Guard in the Vinita area. The tanks will be filled from the Flint Ridge water department,” Real continued.
Residents are warned that the water from the tankers need to be boiled before being used to cook or to drink. You are also warned that the water from the wells are not fit for laundering clothes, because it will stain them.
Garner had reported last week that the town is trying to work with Rural Water District #1, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the Cherokee Nation to tie into the Flint Ridge water pipeline, which is located about a mile from the town’s main water distribution line. Commissioner Duncan reported, with that goal in mind, a meeting has been scheduled for Friday at the Lowry School, although a specific time had not yet been coordinated between all of the officials.