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Tulsa Honored for Disaster Mitigation Efforts

ARCHIVED PRESS RELEASE: Published 12-8-2011

Tulsa and its citizens were honored today by the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association for the work the city and its citizens have done in preventing floods and dealing with disasters.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett and City Council Chair G.T. Bynum accepted the award on behalf of the city at the beginning of Thursday's City Council meeting following a reception honoring community leaders, city employees and others who contributed to flood prevention and disaster mitigation efforts in recent decades.

"As Tulsa's Mayor I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the citzens and all of the community leaders, city employees and others who have worked so hard to protect Tulsans from future floods and disasters," Bartlett said.   "What we have achieved in terms of reducing flood damage serves as a model for many other cities."

Built in a river valley and with many streams within its boundaries, Tulsa has a long history of floods and, by the 1980s, was declared a flood disaster area nine times within 15 years - more than any other community in the nation.

After the city's most devastating flood , which killed 14 Tulsans and damaged or destroyed nearly 7,000 structures, struck Tulsa on Memorial Day in 1984, Tulsa's government and community leaders and citizens responded by launching a city-wide commitment to reduce recurring flood damage.

Since that time the City has spent hundreds of millions of dollars channelizing streams, building a large network of floodwater retention ponds - most of which serve double-duty as parks, athletic facilities and recreation areas. The City, with the help of federal grants, purchased homes in flood-prone areas and instituted tough but fair policies to control development in potential flooding areas.

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 Tulsa's program its highest ranking in terms of disaster mitigation efforts, Tulsans enjoy the lowest flood insurance rates in the country. The citizens are reaping the benefits of the flood-prevention and other disaster mitigation efforts.

Tulsa's progress has been called an example of what can happen when a community fully commits to solving urban problems.

In the early 1990s, FEMA ranked Tulsa first in the nation for its floodplain management program, allowing Tulsans to enjoy the nation's lowest flood insurance rates. The program was also honored with FEMA's 1992 Outstanding Public Service Award; and the Association of State Floodplain Managers has twice given Tulsa its Local Award for Excellence.

Leaders consider the Tulsa program still in progress. They know that much remains to be done, and that there is an inevitable next flood ahead. The program continues to evolve.

Additional information about Tulsa's flood history and its efforts to mitigate that threat can be found on the City's website at the following location:

http://www.cityoftulsa.org/city-services/flood-control.aspx

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