Thursday, May 30, 2019
To: Citizens of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation
From: Principal Chief James Floyd
Re: Status update on Impact to communities and properties
There are moments in times like this that I have the opportunity to witness neighbors helping neighbors and our employees going above and beyond during long hours to help lessen this ongoing crisis.
I want to take a moment to express my pride and appreciation for all that each of you have done to step up and lessen the burden on others impacted by the severe weather and flood issues. I know our Nation’s leadership joins me in sharing our heartfelt thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do in the coming weeks.
This latest round of severe weather this week impacted citizens throughout our Nation, as well as left damage to several of our tribal-owned properties. The responsiveness from our team at the Tribal headquarters and our business partners has been remarkable. I would especially like to recognize the staff of our Arbor Care program for storm damage clean-up and the Emergency Management Water Rescue Team that worked for five days alongside emergency crews in Wagoner County. Our Emergency Manager Coordinator continues to assist the Wagoner County Emergency Operations Center overseeing the operations of Emergency Command Center. I would, also, like to thank Lighthorse Tribal Police for the quick responsiveness in checking our tribal properties.
If outstanding needs remain, please do not hesitate to contact our teams to see how we can be of assistance. You may contact Sylvia Tulsa, Office of Risk Management at (918) 732-7795.
The RiverWalk in Jenks remains open. The Citizenship office remains open to serve citizens. The restaurants, retail and Flying Tee are exceeding expectations with guests seeking a view of the Arkansas River. The trail in front of RiverWalk is closed for safety precautions. The parking lot potentially could be impacted by the water, but the buildings remain dry.
The River Spirit Casino Resort management team, operations and security crews continue to work incessantly to protect the Resort from the relentless water released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from the Keystone Dam.
As of Wednesday, May 29, the Corps announced that it can begin reducing the current 275,000 cubic feet per second. The last flood occurrence was in 1986 and the level of release has slowed, which assists in clean up and re-opening.
I had the opportunity to tour River Spirit with Gov. Kevin Stitt and his team to showcase the Steps being taken to protect the Resort and to prepare to re-open as soon as the water recedes. I appreciate the Governor’s interest and time to learn more about the $169 million impact the Resort has on the economy, as well as the 1,800 area employees that depend on the Resort for their livelihood. I am actively seeking his support for future Federal Disaster Relief funds to help offset the cost of the operation to protect the Resort from additional damage, as well as the cost to clean and restore the areas impacted by the water.
Currently, we estimate the Resort will remain closed through the month of June assuming the water levels diminish as reported by the Corps. We will update this information after a total assessment of the property. The first priority is bringing the power back online as the utilities for the property are contained in underground vaults. Additionally, for the safety of guests and employees, the parking structures and asphalt must be cleaned and repaired prior to reopening.
Leadership at River Spirit Casino Resort is attempting to invalidate false information spreading in the community via social media channels and comments online regarding the structural integrity of the Resort. We hope each of you can assist in helping to ensure correct information reaches our citizens and public:
Construction of the Resort hotel tower and expanded gaming and restaurants were built utilizing 675 heavily reinforced concrete piers, eight feet in diameter that are 80 to 87 feet below the ground and socketed to the bedrock at an elevation level of 588. Additionally, the Resort complex is further protected from land erosion due to the one-inch thick, solid steel sheet piling surrounding the river side of the property from the hotel tower to the theater. The sheet piling begins at the elevation level of 614 and protects the land all the way to the bedrock elevation level of 588.
As designed, there is no possibility the Resort complex can be structurally damaged by the water release. External construction engineers have been on site to review and develop a report regarding the structural integrity of the buildings and land bridges.
I want to reassure the citizens and public that River Spirit, including the 26-story hotel, Margaritaville and Ruth’s Chris restaurants, along with both our gaming floors remain unaffected by the water surrounding our property. Some of the Resort amenities, such as the ground level pool, spa and indoor/outdoor restaurant may be impacted longer for clean-up and repairs.
I hope all citizens of the Nation join me in showing pride for the beautiful Resort we built on our historic land on the banks of the Arkansas River. The water will recede and the sun will soon bless our land again.