In May of 2019 rain in Kansas and northern Oklahoma sent floodwaters flowing into Keystone Lake and forced an increased release of water from Keystone Dam. At the peak of the release about 2.7 times the combined flow of Niagara Falls rushed through the dam, a rate of roughly 275,000 cubic feet per second.
Located on the Arkansas River between the Keystone Dam and Tulsa, Oklahoma is the city of Sand Springs, OK. Hundreds of houses were under water in Sand Springs due to the extreme volume of water being released from the dam. Minuteman Disaster Response set up base camp nearby and spent 8 days assisting families in relief and cleanup efforts. In addition to the relief efforts in Sand Springs, Minuteman also had FAST, their Flood and Swiftwater Team, working in nearby Rogers County with the local sheriff’s office.
A highlight of the recovery effort in Sand Springs was a visit to the neighborhood by Vice President Mike Pence and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to examine the damage and thank the volunteers.
After returning home Bill Sommers received an email from one of the families Minuteman had assisted. The email expressed the home owner’s sincere gratitude for coming to their aid. Their friends had scattered back to their own lives when the water receded but the home owner’s “faith had been restored by complete strangers”. Sommers says, “This is what it is all about. Minuteman has given me a chance to use my skills to give back. I sleep like a baby knowing I do what I can to help others.”