Angel Ellis/ Reporter
Arkansas River swells to historic levels
TULSA, Oklahoma —The River Spirit closed its doors for the first time May 22 since opening the casino in 2009. The decision was announced at 11:30 a.m. in anticipation of rising waters as the Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Keystone Dam would begin releasing more than 209,000 cubic feet of water per second with an inflow of 281,000 CFS.
According to the experts the flood levels have exceeded the historic marks reached in 1986.
River Spirit Casino Resort Chief Executive Officer Pat Crofts called the decision to close precautionary.
‘The elevation of the Resort property was built to sustain a 100-year flood,’ Crofts said in a news release.
By noon the Arkansas River had swelled just beyond its banks. Lighthorse blocked entry to the resort and Riverside Drive was temporarily blocked in front of the resort.
‘As we continue to assess the water levels and receive updates from the Corp of Engineers, we will send community updates as available,’ Crofts said.
Current hotel guests were relocated to other properties, and guests with reservations through the weekend were contacted to reschedule. Those who planned to attend “Rocktopia,” on May 23, were notified of refund or reschedule.
Storms continued to drop precipitation, and by 6 p.m. a service road between the river and the resort and parking lots were flooded.
Early May 23, City Officials reported that water release could increase 250,000 cubic feet per second. According to the Corps that release rate is set to continue throughout the weekend.
According to Shelia Curley with Six-PR, the water levels have affected the parking lots and underground parking. However, the facilities gaming floor and guest accessible areas remain unaffected. Power to the tower was shut off by Wednesday evening to perserve systems.
“We did receive updates on the water levels being released and based on that report the resort will remain closed throughout the holiday weekend,” Curley said. “But water levels will not reach those guest levels, it was built to protect that investment.”