OOLAGAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is providing a $225,000 boost to a Rogers County rural water district that suffered major infrastructure damage during Oklahoma’s recent historic flooding.
Thousands of Rogers County Rural Water District No. 3 families were forced to ration water after flooding in May damaged water lines below the Oolagah dam spillway. In order to reconnect waterlines to around 12,000 residents living in 4,000 homes, contractors have had to bore a tunnel through approximately 800 feet of limestone. It’s been a costly and timely recovery process for the rural water district, which provides service to a large number of Cherokee families.
“Rural Water District No. 3 in Rogers County has had to overcome some monumental hurdles since all of the historic rainfall we received in May,” Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “They still have a lot of work ahead of them, and we are proud to help ease the financial burden of keeping Cherokees and all other families who rely on this rural water district supplied with clean water.”
Deputy Chief Crittenden and District 14 Council of the Cherokee Nation Councilmember Keith Austin, of Claremore, met with the tribe’s director of environmental health and engineering, Billy Hix, and Rogers County RWD 3 District Manager Rick Stull to survey the spillway and the ongoing work on July 18.
“I am so happy the people whose daily lives have been interrupted by this waterline break will very soon have all the water they need,” Councilmember Austin said. “I am so glad we were able to help with this major contribution. This was truly neighbor helping neighbor.”
Cherokee Nation’s contribution to Rogers County RWD 3 is provided through Indian Health Service Emergency Sanitation Facilities Construction funding.
“What a blessing the Cherokee Nation has been to this rural water district,” Stull said. “Words cannot express the gratitude I feel. All the work and long hours to get this water to the other side of the spillway is all coming together. This district is very blessed to have wonderful folks like the Cherokee Nation to step up and help us in a time of need.”
During the flood and subsequent water rationing, Cherokee Nation also delivered bottled water to Rogers County communities to assist families who had little to no access to clean water.