Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Central Closed Thursday; Radar Records 10 Inches of Rain

Central schools, east of Sallisaw, will remain closed on Thursday, School Superintendent Larry Henson announced Wednesday afternoon.

The school remains closed while the railroad cleans up a derailment about a quarter mile away.

Steve Rutherford, Sequoyah County Emergency Management director, met with railroad and county officials Wednesday morning for an update on the cleanup.

“It’s going well,” Rutherford said. “It’s just a process now, getting it done.”

Heavy rains early Sunday are believed to have loosened the railway tracks resulting in the train derailment Sunday morning.

Rutherford said Union Pacific Railroad officials report special operations will unload the six tank cars filled with propane. The railroad has placed monitoring stations around the derailment that have not recorded any propane leaking from the cars. Rutherford said the railroad plans to off load the propane onto tanker trucks, then transport the propane to the Van Buren rail yard for further rail transport.

“It is very safe,” Rutherford said. “They are going to do one car a day for six days. They are going to off load the propane at night because of the school.”

Residents in the area will not be evacuated, and will be safe, Rutherford said.

“It is a safe process,” Rutherford said.

The railroad company, Rutherford said, “has done an awesome job in getting the clean-up done, and they work well with us.”

Rutherford said he expects Central High Road to be open by Friday. The road has no flood damage but is closed due to the derailment.

Other county roads did not fare well in the heavy rains that hit the county Sunday. Rutherford said county commissioners are in the process of assessing damages, and he believes there was heavy road damage in all three county districts.

The money threshold to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency money for repairs is $131,000 Rutherford said. He said the county will have no problem meeting that threshold.

“We know we have major road damage,” Rutherford said. “And five homes, mainly in the Central area and near the river, were flooded. I talked to one family that had four feet of water in their home.”

Rutherford said he has special radar which showed the heaviest rain on Sunday was from Sallisaw to just west of Muldrow, and in a 10-mile circumference. He said the radar revealed almost 10 inches of rain fell in the Gans area.

Rutherford said the flood control dams, north of Sallisaw, are all holding and doing their jobs.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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