Water has not only put a damper on traditional Fourth of July activities, it has actually extinguished plans for fireworks at two of the area’s largest events.
The much anticipated display of bright lights, patriotic colors and music will not be seen or heard at Oologah Lake nor Catoosa’s Rogers Point on Wednesday night.
Oologah Lake Redbud Bay Marina operator, Michael Fawcett, who plans and puts on the annual fireworks display said the Corp of Engineers pulled the permit because of the rising lake levels and saturated parks. He said hopefully the event can be rescheduled when the waters recede and lake levels are more normal.
Catoosa City Clerk Judy Scullawl said Mayor Rita Lamkin is not calling it a cancellation, but LibertyFest and the fireworks at Rogers Point have been postponed.
“Rogers Point is just too muddy, and they can’t park cars. This is the first time we’ve ever had to postpone. Isn’t that a shame?” Scullawl said. A September Centennial event could make up for the lack of a Fourth celebration.
The first LibertyFest along the banks of the Arkansas River Navigational Channel on the Verdigris was held in 1991 and this is the first time it has ever been postponed.
“I understand the road where shooters would have to go is now under water,” Scullawl said.
Further north along the county’s now flooded Verdigris waterway, Oologah Lake Park Ranger Amanda Peters reported water levels 14 feet above normal on Monday and rising (normal being 638 feet, the current level at 652 feet).
Peters said it is not possible to allow parking in the Hawthorne Bay area where people normally congregate to swim, picnic and view the fireworks display across the waters at Redbud Bay Marina.
“There is still camping and we have people coming in who have had reservations,” Peters said. But, “there’s no place to park anyone. We can’t let people park on the grass.”
In addtion to closing the Hawthorn Bay boat ramps and swimming area, high waters have forced the closure of boat ramps at Redbud, Blue Creek and Spencer Creek. Electrical camping sites at Spencer are still open.
“If people want to put in a boat, they can go to Allen Point up by Winganon,’ Peters said.
The Corp is releasing 20,000 cubic feet per second through Oologah Dam.
Above the dam, boaters and lake goers are cautioned to be aware of floating debris.
“Things that normally stick out above water are now under water,” Peters said. “Use caution and use your life jacket.”
Fawcett, whose Redbud Bay Marina is located on the lake, said, “The water hasn’t even crested yet,and we’re expecting another eight or nine feet at the top of the flood stage.
“We’re expecting to have no access to the lake on Wednesday.”
The marina operator said it’s been a pretty rough year. “The water also makes a lot of extra work We are having to make walkways so people can get out to their boats. When (the water’s) coming up two and half feet a day, about all you can do is sit and watch it come up.”
Fawcett said they do still have some campers. “People are coming in for the Patriot Guard gathering (in Claremore). We have some of the Patriot Guards staying in our park.”
Still overall, he said business is down about 50 percent of normal for this time of year.
“We’ve had high water since before Memorial Weekend,” Fawcett said.