Thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding: Aftermath of severe weather for Midwest tribes

Cherokee Nation says their tribal citizens are safe.

Tribes in the midwest suffered damages from severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding this week, and the severe weather will continue.

The National Weather Service has warned the central United States of flash flood watches and flood warnings into next week. Friday’s forecast brings winds, hail, and tornadoes.

Tornado warnings sent residents, including tribal citizens, looking for safety and some residents are reporting they haven’t slept in days.

Crystal Echo-Hawk, president of Echohawk Consulting, posted her experiences on social media on Wednesday from Skiatook, Oklahoma, which is north of Tulsa.

“Multiple tornado warnings, 2 trips to storm shelter, 1 tornado reported near us & no power. We are fried. Camping in the living room holding it down. Ready for this to be over!” she posted. “Grateful to be with these fierce ladies & we’ve managed to still laugh despite some real scares and stress. Truly appreciate all the folks who have been checking on us. Hope all our friends & relatives in surrounding areas are ok!”

A tornado killed 3 people in Missouri on Wednesday night, according to multiple reports, and a damage survey is ongoing from that tornado. 

President Donald J. Trump expressed his condolences to the state of Missouri.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Missouri as they woke up to assess the damage from storms. You are strong and resilient, and we are here to assist,” he tweeted. 

The River Spirit Casino, owned by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is temporarily closed due to the rising water from the Arkansas River. The casino is located next to the river where a drone captured the now flooded property. 

The resort announced it will open back up on Sunday. Guests were evacuated yesterday and relocated to other properties.

Chief executive officer Pat Crofts released a statement about the rising waters.

“We remain fortunate that our engineering design accounted for a 100-year-flood. However, this level of water was not a previous measurement. The new water level being released today is increasing the water on our south and north parking lots, on the front service road, on the south great lawn, in the subterranean parking and on our service road leading to our loading docks,” he said in the statement. “All of the Resort hotel, Margaritaville and Ruth’s Chris restaurants, Margaritaville and River Spirit Casinos, Paradise Cove Theater all remain, and will remain dry. The Resort Pool is at the biggest risk at this time.”

Cherokee Nation closed its casino in Fort Gibson on Tuesday in anticipation of the Arkansas River flooding. The casino will open up when the flooding is over.

The tribal nation’s emergency management team has been helping the community and tribal citizens with resources, such as food, water, and financial assistance. 

They also delivered water to a fire department and a local health center. 

Pawnee Nation tribal offices closed early on Monday and have been closed due to severe flooding to roads that lead to the offices. The American Red Cross donated some cots and blankets to those staying at the Pawnee Community Center. The tribal offices will open up on Friday. 

The Osage Nation is helping enrolled members whose homes were damaged from the chaos. The Nation has been providing emergency financial assistance up to $1,000. 

People are advised to not drive through flooded roads or even park in areas where there’s water. 

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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter - @jourdanbb. Email -jbennett-begaye@indiancountrytoday.com.

Comments (1)
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Kat8canary
Kat8canary

The latest information is that River Spirit Casino Resort will not reopen until June 5th. At this point there is no water in the casino but the parking lots are 4 feet under. There is more rain on the way so the flooding could get worse. If we go back to work June 5th that will be 14 days of lost revenue.