State Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) requested an interim study to conduct a state-level review of the actions taken leading up to and in response to the historic Arkansas River Flood of 2019.
“We experienced the second most significant flood event along the Arkansas River since 1986,” Sims said. “The flooding spared no community along its banks as it traversed through Northeastern Oklahoma, nor the cities and towns inundated by the overflows of lesser-known creeks and streams that feed into it.”
Sims seeks to facilitate an after-action study with key federal, state and local governmental agencies as well as public and private stakeholders that were negatively impacted up and down the river.
“How did we forecast, plan and ultimately respond to protect the people, property, wildlife and environmental treasures of this state?” Sims asked. “We owe it to all who have suffered greatly to gain every lesson possible to better respond and, if at all possible, prevent the next one.”
“There will be considerable interest to participate,” said Terry Simonson, director of Tulsa County Governmental Affairs. “From what we have learned, there may be some legislative action needed that could be helpful. Counties need to have a way, like cities do, to proactively fund the flood control and storm water infrastructure improvements needed, especially in the unincorporated areas where many live in a flood zone. We hope that in addition to the scope of the inquiry looking back, we can look forward as well on how counties develop a fundable floodwater plan.”
Sims emphasized this event is far from over, especially for those Oklahoma families who have lost everything.
“I’m extremely grateful for the disaster declarations of Governor Stitt and President Trump to ensure these Oklahoma families have access to every state and federal resource available,” Sims said.
Representatives may request interim studies to examine a policy issue in depth, but ultimately, the decision on whether the studies are approved resides with the Speaker of the House. Decisions on which interim studies requests are approved will come from the Speaker’s office by July 19.