WEBBERS FALLS, Okla. - As heavy floods ravaged Oklahoma, two barges broke loose on the Arkansas River and began heading downstream, threatening to hit the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam, authorities said.
Officials said a National Guard aircraft found the barges trapped on rocks early Thursday near Webbers Falls, however, authorities said they were later knocked loose. They reached the dam Thursday morning, although officials said they didn’t appear to cause any damage.
Here are the latest updates:
Update 1:45 p.m. EDT May 23: Officials with Oklahoma State Patrol said the barges hit a concrete barrier at the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam on Thursday, but there didn’t appear to be any damage done.
These are some of the pictures of the barges from the air. The latest info is that they hit the concrete barrier at Lock and Dam 16. There does not appear to be any damage to the lock. At least one barge appears to have sunk. pic.twitter.com/ULbBmAq3EA— OK Highway Patrol/DPS (@OHPDPS) May 23, 2019
At least one of the barges appeared to have sunk, officials said.
Update 12:50 p.m. EDT May 23: The barges weigh about 3,000 pounds, KOKI-TV reported. According to the news network, they’re expected to do “minimal damage” if they hit the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam later Thursday.
Officials with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said they were working with a representative of the barge company to determine how to secure the vessels.
Troop W boats are on the Arkansas River right now with the barge company representative attempting to locate and assess how the barges can be secured. I-40 will remain closed for now. We are also sending a fixed wing aircraft to provide a bird's eye update.— OK Highway Patrol/DPS (@OHPDPS) May 23, 2019
Update 6:07 a.m. EDT May 23: Officials located the barges about 4 a.m. CDT Thursday stuck on rocks north of Spaniard Creek, KOKI-TV is reporting.
Emergency management says the barges have been found stuck on some rocks north of Spaniard Creek. What’s next is still being evaluated. @FOX23 will continue to follow this throughout the day.— Rick Maranon (@RickonFox23) May 23, 2019
Original report: Downstream is the small riverfront town of Webbers Falls, home to about 600 residents. Officials had already ordered the town evacuated Wednesday afternoon because of the rising level river.
As of 11:47 p.m. CDT Wednesday, the barges had not arrived at the dam as expected. Emergency crews were still working to locate the barges and did not know where they were.
Earlier, the barges were captured on video passing below the Highway 62 bridge without hitting any supporting structures.
News of the loose barges added further urgency to the order.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol has closed I-40 south of Webbers Falls in case of impact from the barge or debris.
Please check back for updates.
– Fox23.com contributed to this report.