"All the citizens have been here to help each other out," said Braggs Mayor Eric Hutchins

By Char Adams
May 29, 2019 12:22 PM
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Credit: KOTV

For the past week, the 259 residents of Braggs, Oklahoma, have relied on boats to get in and out of town. With all the roads in the Muskogee County town flooded, the residents have turned their boats into water taxis, heading to makeshift docks on dry land nearby to get what they need to survive.

“We’re just blocked off from civilization,” Braggs resident Carrie Ross, 35, told the New York Times. Another resident, Shawn Cogdill, added: “Normally, you’re secluded. I mean, that’s just the way it is out here. So it’s not like any different. The only difference is, you can’t leave.”

It all began last week when storms flooded the Arkansas River, leaving nearby towns inundated with water. Heavy rainfall in the region has already shattered all-time May records, and historic, record flooding is expected to continue along the Arkansas River in the coming weeks, according to the Weather Channel.

The rainfall and flooding have put pressure on the areas’ levee systems, with two northwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, already topped, NBC News reported.

“This is a very catastrophic, not-yet-over scenario that we’re dealing with,” Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack said, according to NBC.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum made similar comments to reporters on Tuesday, according to NBC, saying, “We are planning for and preparing for the flood of record, and we think everybody along the Arkansas River corridor ought to be doing the same.”

At least six people have died in Oklahoma since the harsh weather began last week, and all 77 counties in Oklahoma are in a state of emergency, NBC reported.

As authorities work to ensure the safety of hundreds of thousands of residents, those in Braggs are doing all they can to adapt to life on the newly created island.

“We’ve been trapped since Thursday,” Gary Nichols told KOTV. Others, like Carrie Ross, said they are concerned with making a living in the midst of the severe weather.

“I’m thinking about taking a boat to get to work as long as I can find someone to pick me up on the other side to go to work,” she told the station.

Braggs residents write their names on their gas cans when a friend or neighbor makes a run to the mainland for gas — the town has only one gas station, according to the Times. More than a dozen people have been evacuated from the town and power was just restored to Braggs on Sunday. Much of the water encircles the town, with residents using their boats to feed livestock and get medicine and groceries, the Times reported.

Many are desperate for federal help, as residents are not allowed to access a dry road through a National Guard training center, according to the Times.

However, Muskogee County officials created a makeshift dirt road for residents to access the mainland, but authorities have said it’s not safe for the public to drive on, KOTV reported.

“All the citizens have been here to help each other out,” Braggs Mayor Eric Hutchins said, according to KOTV. “That’s how Braggs takes care of each other.”