Group Of Cowboys Came Together To Save Animals As Oklahoma Flooding Reached Record Levels

A group of Oklahoma natives have come to the rescue of ranchers impacted by ongoing flooding in the state.

The group began with just four cowboys who offered their help in a Facebook post and has grown as other people with the capacity and equipment to offer assistance have joined in.

"When we realized how bad this flooding was getting, and knowing many people didn't have the means to get the help they needed to get animals out, we made a Facebook post and offered to help free of charge. This is the heartbeat of America. We weren't going to sit back and do nothing," Cory Conley told Fox News.

According to Oklahoma Mesonet, the average rainfall total in the state for May 2019 was 10.48 inches, with some counties in northeastern Oklahoma seeing between 14 and 19 inches of rainfall. However, areas such as Muskogee, Tulsa and Wagoner counties along the Arkansas River that have seen the worst of the flooding.

It's those areas where the group has been working, they told KOTV.

Some of the cowboys told Fox News they have taken part in over a dozen rescue missions, moving hundreds of cows, sheep and other livestock as floodwaters rose. In one situation, Casey Thomas said, he rescued a cat that had been stranded on a pole.

"The cat's owner was a lady who had died a few weeks earlier and now her daughter was taking care of it. So, it was of extra importance the cat be saved," he told Fox News.

Many of the group members own cattle and understand the livelihood surrounding the way of life for ranchers impacted by the flooding. Each animal can net around $1,000 and losing one cow can have a significant effect on the rancher's life.

The cowboys said that the process of saving the animals hasn't been easy. They have been required to shoot down fencing, roped cows to boats and used red solo cups to mark trails along tree branches as they were the only thing still visible amid the flooding.

"We will continue until this is all over. It's a fine line whether these animals live or die, and we all would feel too guilty if we didn't at least try," Conley told Fox News.

While floodwaters have receded in parts of Oklahoma, the Arkansas River remained 7 feet above flood stage on Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service said. Concerns for flooding have now shifted into Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi as floodwaters move downstream.

To help combat the amount of water, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to open the Morganza Spillway in Louisiana on June 9. The spillway, which hasn't been utilized since 2011, will divert waters from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya Basin and divert the water from New Orleans and nearby cities like Baton Rouge. Forecasts from the National Weather Service predict that the river will reach 60 feet on June 12.

However, concerns for Oklahoma have not eased as more heavy rain is forecast for the state in the coming week. Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas could also see heavy rain as a tropical system is working to form in the Gulf of Mexico. The system, which could be the first named storm of the 2019 hurricane season - Barry - is currently forecast to dump 2 to 5 inches of rain over the weekend in the southeastern U.S. That rainfall amount will add to the water levels in the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers.

Marine veteran Jeremy Reed with the Wounded Veterans of Oklahoma helps to rescue horses from floodwater after torrential rains pounded Southeast Texas following Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey causing widespread flooding on September 2, 2017 in Orange, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi August 25, has dumped nearly 50 inches of rain in and around areas Houston. Getty/Scott Olson