Two barges somehow broke away from their restraints on Wednesday evening and started to float down the Arkansas River towards the Webbers Falls lock and dam. At one point, the barges drifted beneath the U.S. 62 bridge, amazing onlookers. Overnight, the barges were momentarily stopped when they ran aground some rocks, about a mile from the dam. Finally, the barges hit the dam on Thursday.
Here’s the video of the barges, the moment they hit and appeared to begin to sink from impact:
Here’s a photo of the barges hitting the dam:
And here’s another, clearer photo of the barges on impact:
As 4029 News Chief Meteorologist Darby Bybee notes in this tweet, the dam has appeared to withstand the crash without any immediate damage; following the crash, the barges were sucked under the water in minutes.
One user tweeted of a livestream of the barges hitting the dam: “Barges hit the dam, but not head on, they are up against it sideways, so far, no major infrastructure damage.”
Here’s another video of the barges as they slowly approach, then crash into the dam:
These aerial photos give an idea of where, exactly, the barges hit the dam, and shows how quickly they were submerged:
The barges were both reportedly filled with fertilizer. Many Twitter users have relayed their concern about that fertilizer releasing into the Arkansas River.
Here’s what you need to know:
A Timeline of the Barges’ Journey on Wednesday & Thursday
Here’s the video of the barges drifting perfectly beneath the U.S. 62 bridge on Wednesday afternoon, amazing many:
As news of the barges broke on Wednesday, the town of Webbers Falls called for an immediate evacuation for all residents, with the fear that the barges might break through the lock and dam, causing disastrous flooding for the area.
According to Tulsa World, state troopers shut down the I-40 bridge and nearby highway area due to the threat of the barges. In a social media statement, town officials wrote, “Evacuate Webbers Falls immediately. The barges are loose and has the potential to hit the lock and dam 16. if the dam breaks it will be catastrophic!! Leave now!!”
According to KWCH, Webbers Falls is a town with a population of 6-700 people. Town officials urged those people to get out while they could, writing in a subsequent Facebook post,
“This is a life threatening situation. If you choose to stay you are doing so at your own risk. If you choose to stay we advice you write your name and personal information on your arm in permanent marker. Please be safe!”