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Runaway Barges from Port of Muskogee Strike Dam

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High water on the Arkansas River at Port of Muskogee, Oklahoma, May 22 (Mark Jackson / Twitter)

By The Maritime Executive 2019-05-23 16:07:10

Two barges that broke away from their moorings at the Port of Muskogee, Oklahoma on Wednesday have been swept downstream into the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River.

The barges sank shortly after making contact, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is inspecting the dam to determine the extent of any possible damage to the structure. Interstate 40 has been closed to traffic at its Arkansas River crossing, just downriver from the dam, until the evaluation is complete. 

The Arkansas River at Muskogee is currently at about 40 feet of depth, the highest water level since 1943 and the second-highest in recorded history. The river is expected to peak Friday night at about 43.5 feet, and will remain at extreme flooding levels through the weekend. According to the National Weather Service, the long range forecast for the Arkansas River basin includes more rain, with widespread areas of Kansas and northern Oklahoma expected to receive more than four inches. Longer range outlooks show wet conditions throughout the next two weeks.

Downstream at the Port of Little Rock, Arkansas, marine terminal facilities near the Interstate 30 bridge could be affected by flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

In an unusual development, the decommissioned WWII submarine USS Batfish - a stationary war memorial and public attraction in Muskogee - refloated Thursday on the rising floodwaters. It is the first time she has returned to the water since she was installed on shore in 1973.