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Lessons Learned From '84 Flood

At the time there was nothing dry about the 15 inches of rain that fell in 24 hours, but for city leaders the flood of '84 became a line in the sand.

"It was the hinge pin to what changed the way we looked at storm water in the city," said Director of City Engineer Paul Zachary, recalling the surreal sights of the flood.

"Water was running up by these people's gutters on their homes, 9 and 10 feet deep water. There's nothing you can do, you know, that doesn't exist anymore in the city of Tulsa," he said.

"Night and day, that's the difference in Tulsa's ability to handle water. Since 1984 these are just some of the improvements; 972 miles of storm sewer, 42,000 inlets and manholes, and 129 publicly maintained detention facilities, some of them hiding in plain sight.

"Everybody thinks that Peoria, 6th and Peoria park is great, well it's a storm water detention facility," he said.

That's right, the gorgeous pond at Centennial park has a dual purpose.

"This thing right here helps prevent flooding out of 21st and Boulder," he said.

In addition to the infrastructure, some 1,400 properties have been bought from folks who when it rained would routinely call the city saying...

"I got water up to my knees in my home, and this happens every time we have a two inch rain, we just don't have those properties anymore," he said.

In all, over half a billion has been spent on flood control, making Tulsa a FEMA recognized national model.

"There are still some hot spots,but as far as life threatening and the number of calls that we get, we're not anywhere near where we used to be," said Zachary.

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