Flood Control and Drainage
Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been called America's most American city,
because the age, race, income, and attitudes of our citizens
reflect the United States as a whole. We're a test market for new
products; if it works in Tulsa, it has a good chance of working
Tulsa's flooding problems also mirror many other towns. Our
community was founded a hundred years ago on a major river and has
a long history of floods, compounded by post-war growth, floodplain
development, and frequent rainstorms.
By the 1980s, Tulsa's flooding had reached singular proportions.
The federal government had declared Tulsa County a flood disaster
area nine times in 15 years, more than any other community in the
nation. Each flood was worse than the one before.
The most devastating flood in our history hit in the mid-night
hours of Memorial Day 1984. Our City responded to the shock of this
killer flash flood with community-wide commitment to end our
recurring disasters. Determined leaders crafted a unified program
to curb flood losses.
Today, Tulsa's floodplain and stormwater program is based on
respect for the natural systems. It includes comprehensive
watershed management, dedicated funds for maintenance and
operation, a prototype alert system, and a $200 million capital
This program is more than flood control. We're building parks in
the floodplains, sports fields in stormwater detention basins, and
greenway trails on creek banks.
We are forging strong partnerships with federal and state
And we've stopped creating new problems. Since the City adopted
comprehensive drainage regulations, we have no record of flooding
in any structure built in accord with those regulations.
Because the federal government gave our program its highest
ranking, Tulsans enjoy the lowest flood insurance rates in the
country. We are reaping benefits from national awards and favorable
We're still building our program, and we're still learning. We
know our location in "tornado alley" guarantees that Tulsa will
flood again, and we're working to prepare for that inevitability.
But, without question, we've come a long way. Tulsa's progress has
been called an example of what can happen when a community fully
commits to solving urban problems.
Like many other U.S. communities, our experience didn't come