Gov. Brad Henry today is looking at flood-ravaged areas of the state.
He left this morning aboard an Oklahoma National Guard Blackhawk helicopter to tour Washington and Ottawa Counties in northeastern Oklahoma.
The governor is expected to take a brief tour this morning in Miami. He is scheduled to meet residents affected by the flooding. He will also visit workers staffing the local emergency operations center.
Henry then will be given an aerial tour of the Bartlesville area, where more than 2,500 have been evacuated from homes, before heading to tour the Shawnee-Tecumseh region.
He’s expected to land in Shawnee and look at flood damage in the Brookridge Housing Addition just north of Shawnee.
The governor will return to Oklahoma City after his stop in Shawnee. He will be accompanied on the tour by state Emergency Management Department Director Allbert Ashwood.
Meanwhile, state environmental officials are watching an oil spill that has entered Lake Oologah, a water source for the city of Tulsa.
The oil spilled into the Verdigris River from a Coffeyville, Kan., refinery on Sunday and was headed toward Oologah Lake, a water source for the city of Tulsa.
“We are hopeful that because of the large amounts of water that are out there that the oil will be spread out and diluted and displaced and not cause a tremendous problem,” Henry said Monday.
Miles Tolbert, the state’s secretary of environment, said the oil spill, while serious, poses no threat to several Oklahoma communities that get their public drinking water from the Verdigris.
The drinking water comes from below the surface waters of the river; oil floats on the surface and should not be sucked into the drinking water systems, Tolbert said.
“They should not be impacted by this spill,” he said.
However, residents along the river should be aware that the sewage treatment plant in South Coffeyville was flooded, which will cause a danger of bacteria in the river, Tolbert said. Communities along the river are being encouraged to increase testing levels.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius called Henry on Monday to apologize.
“She’s very concerned and offered her help and assistance,” Henry said.