Gov. Stitt visits Broken Arrow during tour of recovery efforts


Source: City of Broken Arrow

Gov. Kevin Stitt met with Broken Arrow officials today and received an update on the city's storm damage response.

The city was his first stop back in the state after flying in from the Paris Air Show last night, where he had been promoting Oklahoma's aviation and transportation industry.

"You guys did better than anybody," Stitt said. "We're so proud of Broken Arrow and how you guys worked together and ensured that the public was safe."

He complimented the people of Broken Arrow and their resiliency during the cleanup.

Mayor Debra Wimpee thanked Gov. Stitt for coming and said the city was hit pretty hard, with 24,000 to 26,000 people initially without electricity.

"Our sanitation, streets, maintenance, and emergency management directors went into quick action by jumping in and getting the arterial and residential streets cleared so the police officers could get in there and access what lights were out," Wimpee said. "When PSO came in, they were able to get to work quickly, and that's what made the difference here, I would say."

City Manager Michael Spurgeon said street access was critical.

"By Sunday afternoon, essentially all of our streets were cleared for emergency services and PSO to be able to get around," Spurgeon said. "PSO was mobilizing all of their forces, plus the folks from mutual aid, and they were starting to make repairs on Monday."

At 8 a.m. on Friday, the City Manager estimated that approximately 200 Broken Arrow residents were still without power.

Streets and Stormwater Director Rocky Henkel said storm preparations began Saturday afternoon before the storm hit that night. Chainsaws and equipment were prepared and ready.

"We started dispersing our crews at about 3 a.m. Sunday morning to clear our arterial streets to allow first responders and other emergency personnel to access those in need," Henkel said. We wanted to make sure the traffic signals that weren't working had stop signs to avoid collisions at the intersections as well."

Assistant City Manager Kenny Schwab spoke about the city's efforts to safeguard the water and wastewater treatment plant's operation with emergency generators. He credited the fleet and building maintenance department, under the direction of Ryan Baze, with keeping fuel in the generators to keep the water and sewer plants operating during the power outage.

Schwab estimated 60-65 percent of the debris from the storm has already been removed, and that will continue over the next week.

Spurgeon said PSO's decision to divide the Tulsa metro area into four quadrants while deploying their resources equally among the quadrants is one of the reasons why the city is in such good shape now.

"First off, they did an amazing job in adding 2,700 additional people," Spurgeon said. "I mean, this is incredible…I don't think PSO could work any harder to get the power back on."

Stitt estimates 500 power poles were down as a result of the storm.

"PSO had that in stockpiles, and that was a really good situation, too," he said.

Broken Arrow Emergency Management Director Jamie Ott complimented the Oklahoma National Guard for their help in housing some of the 2,700 PSO linemen who came from out of state to restore power.

"The National Guard was leaning forward and more than ready and willing to accept people at the Reserve Center and get them bedded down," Ott said. "I just want to say kudos for how they really reached out."

The governor said his emergency declaration would allow the counties impacted by the storm to access federal funds.

"I'm proud of you guys and glad that most everybody is back up and running,” Stitt said.

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