WEBBERS FALLS, Okla. – The town of Webbers Falls has been evacuated and several highways are shut down after two dam barges broke loose late Wednesday night.
People who live in Webbers Falls were advised to evacuate late Wednesday night when two barges broke loose at the nearby dam that feeds into the Arkansas River.
“They didn't leave. They had to take a Sharpie and write their name on their arm so they could be identified when they found their bodies,” Shane Mannon, who lives in the nearby town of Gore, said.
“A lot of water, it's gotta go somewhere,” Mannon added.
Air Comfort Solutions Chopper 4 captured the moment the barges broke free and slammed into the dam. Moments later, the barges splintered under the intense water pressure.
“I’ve never seen this much water going down through here and by them evacuating Webbers Falls, I've never seen that happen before,” Floyd Adams, who lives near Webbers Falls, said.
Residents said they fear the dam could break and they’re dealing with highway shutdowns, including I-40 in both directions from Warner to Sallisaw. Some drivers are simply parked on the shoulder waiting.
“I've never seen that stem wall in the river with the water like them light bulbs on, never. The guy told us a while ago they're going to open up to 400,000 cubic feet sometime today,” Mannon said.
The barges, which were loaded with fertilizer, were originally spotted by a National Guard helicopter.
With more rain on the way, people who live in the area are left to nervously watch.
“If it hits Tulsa, it's coming down this Arkansas River,” Mannon said.
"It's spooky,” Adams said.