TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Illinois River could face record flooding levels of more than 27 feet. Officials with the Cherokee County Emergency Management said Tahlequah has received about 10 inches of rain within the last 48 hours and the river has already surpassed its flood stage.
Local crews and the National Weather Service have been watching this storm in Tahlequah for the past week. At least, another four to seven inches of rain is expected by Monday morning.
So far no injuries or deaths have been reported. However, deputy director Scott Pettus of emergency management said this storm has the potential to cause harm.
"Treat this with respect. This is a dangerous event, this is a potentially life-threatening event and we want to make sure that people that takes this as seriously as it really is," said Pettus.
The Gammel household is moving fast after two days of rain in Tahlequah. Rhonda Gammel and her family live right on the Illinois River.
"We have been packing everything we own to load in trailers and get it moved to high ground before the river gets to us," said Gammel.
Emergency management said water levels could pique higher than 27 feet, setting a new flooding record, which also means Gammel's home could go under.
"You learn living here that it's always a possibility. We've been here 15 years this is twice we've gotten close to losing the house," said Gammel.
Pettus said Tahlequah has received about 10 inches of rain and could get another four to seven inches by Monday morning. He said this could jeopardize the safety of those who live in the area.
"When you reach levels of this magnitude it becomes a death trap and we want to make sure that folks understand that," said Pettus.
Gammel said water levels outside her home have been rising about four inches every two hours. Her family is packing up what they can carry to save their lives but said there's no telling if their home will be there when they get back.
"We can't afford to risk it, we can't afford to take that gamble. You move it out and pray it don't get you," said Gammel.
Emergency management is expecting the river to crest by Monday afternoon.
Several roads in Tahlequah have been closed off by the hour as flood water continues to drown them. Multiple creeks through town are overflowing with rushing water and spilling over. Officials are advising all drivers to obey all barricades on the roads as some may be damaged or washed away from the heavy flooding.