Cherokee Nation using sandbags to prevent flooding

Cherokee Nation's new Emergency Manager aims to prevent future flooding with thousands of sandbags. (KTUL)

Cherokee Nation's new Emergency Manager aims to prevent future flooding with thousands of sandbags.

In the men's room of The Branch Restaurant in Tahlequah, hangs an old picture. Several people in the picture are standing in flood waters, just outside of the restaurant, then known as a place called Taco Hut.

The Branch General Manager Justin Kelley said things have changed since then. The flooding may not be quite as bad, but they have had some close calls.

"We've had some really close calls," said Kelley. "We have some windows that are right here by the creek, and it's gotten probably within a foot from the windows."

This creek just outside the restaurant is notorious for flooding.

Someone captured cell phone video of a man trying to cross a downed tree last year.

"He made it, luckily. But if he would have fallen, he would not have made it, because it's fast-moving water," said Kelley.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs donated thousands of sandbags to the Cherokee Nation.

"Hopefully, they'll be able to keep water out of their homes," said Emergency Manager Jeremie Fisher.

Fisher said they've already distributed three thousand bags to surrounding tribal counties, but they have a lot left to give.

"They're here for Cherokee citizens and non-Cherokee citizens alike because flood waters flow through Cherokee and non-Cherokee homes," said Fisher.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State, Chuck Hoskin Jr. hopes this is only the beginning of their fight against flooding.

"I just think this is something extra we're doing where we're engaging with the community, we're getting ahead of it by providing a service that communities may not be able to do on their own, but we can pool our resources and get it done," said Hoskin. "I think it will have a big impact on northeast Oklahoma."

Cherokee Nation still has thousands of sandbags available to the public. To learn more, click here.

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