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Tulsa Awarded $19.6 Million Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency

This article was archived on 3/26/2024

Mayor G.T. Bynum, joined by FEMA Region 6 Mitigation Division Director Roosevelt Grant and Fire Chief Michael Baker, announced today that Tulsa has been awarded a $19.6 million Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This grant will enable Tulsa to improve the stormwater drainage in the Fulton Creek basin, where large amounts of rain cause flooding at East 43rd Street and South Sheridan Road.

“Nearly two years after Tulsa reached Class 1 status in the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System, we are not slowing down or resting on our accomplishments,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “Tulsa is continuing to work on stormwater and floodplain management programs. We have come a long way since our days of unmitigated disaster, but there is more work to do. Areas like the Fulton Creek basin continue to flood. This grant will help us continue the work that needs to be done for flood mitigation and heat reduction in Tulsa.”

Other speakers at the news conference were Fire Chief Michael Baker and FEMA Region 6 Mitigation Division Director Roosevelt Grant. Chief Baker said that this flood mitigation project will improve public safety for emergency responders who have had to avoid 43rd and Sheridan and detour around the area when it floods.

The City of Tulsa has been awarded a nearly $19.6 million BRIC grant from FEMA, with the City contributing $6.5 million as a 25-percent funding match, totaling more than $26 million for the Fulton Creek Drainage Basin Urban Flood and Heat Reduction Project in the East 43rd Street and South Sheridan Road area and the downstream watershed.

“Tulsa has emerged as a model community and a leader in risk reduction, having dedicated decades to developing ambitious stormwater management goals, drainage system maintenance, and floodplain development priorities,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Tony Robinson. “Tulsa’s selection for this $20 million Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant will allow them to continue to improve resilience to flooding, heat and water quality while reducing risk and safeguarding the public.”

The project is located within the boundaries of the Muscogee Nation, which provided a letter of support for Tulsa receiving this grant. Muscogee tribal citizens live and work in the project area.

The Fulton Creek drainage basin is a high priority for flood risk reduction in Tulsa. Reducing the risk in this fully developed urban area is complex. The storm sewers and ditches were constructed in the 1960s and are inadequate. This project will not only eliminate or reduce flooding in the mitigated area, but it will also reduce flooding for residents downstream.

Fulton Creek is part of the Mingo Creek watershed. The Fulton Creek basin was one of the areas flooded in the historic Memorial Day flood of 1984 and has remained a flood prone area since that time.

In addition to flooding, Tulsa also faces the major hazard of extreme heat. Historically, heat has caused more fatalities in Tulsa than any other hazard. Concrete and other impervious surfaces in urban environments contribute to local warming effects in a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect. This project will reduce the heat island effect over time. This project has a nature-based focus, including low impact development, increased tree canopy, reduced heat island effect, and reduced impervious area to help mitigate the stormwater issues in this area of Tulsa.

Work is beginning on Phase I of the project – engineering design and benefit/cost analysis. A portion of the funds have been received while the remainder of the funds are pending the design and analysis. Capacity of the storm sewer system will be increased with larger culverts, channel improvements and stormwater detention to accommodate a 100-year flood – the area has a 1-percent chance of flooding in any given year. These improvements will prevent road damage and loss of access and reduce risk of flooding for more than 100 commercial and residential structures.

Phase II will consist of construction of the improvement plan developed in Phase I, including the aforementioned nature-based solutions. The project is estimated for completion in 5 years.

The Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program provides funding to states, local communities, tribes and territories for mitigation planning, adoption and enforcement of building codes and standards, project scoping and small-scale mitigation projects.