Osage Congressional candidates and their families spent the morning hours setting up camp amid puddles and mud left by overnight and early morning rains while others fixed their tents toppled by the storm.
Shortly before 8 a.m. the sun started to peek out from the clouds as camp site work continued at the picnic area on the Osage government campus and voters started lining up nearby at the Congressional chambers to cast ballots.
The Osage County rains left creeks and some streets flooded, creating a flood warning for the southeastern portion of the county. The National Weather Service’s Tulsa office issued the warning effective through 7:30 p.m. and reported that some areas in the county received four to eight inches of rain overnight.
Today’s forecast calls for the high to reach 94 with partly cloudy skies. Winds will be a breezy 3 mph, according to the weather service. Motorists are cautioned to not enter flooded roads or washes.
According to the Skiatook Journal’s Web site, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed a portion of State Highway 20’s westbound lanes east of town due to flooding, but one lane remained closed, according to a 6:30 a.m. update. KJRH-TV reported some streets in Skiatook were flooded as well.
Candidate Maria Whitehorn said she did not go to bed until 2:30 a.m. due to a mix of the election anticipation and the rumbling storms and said some areas around Hominy where she lives are still without electricity. She was one of the first candidates to arrive in Pawhuska to start setting up camp.
Amid people tiptoeing around mud and puddles, Whitehorn was optimistic about the day. “I think it’s going to be a beautiful day,” she said adding she is thankful that her tent, which was set up a day earlier, was not harmed by the storm.
Candidate Jim Ryan said he was also thankful his tent wasn’t harmed while others, including fellow candidate Justin Mays, were left scrambling to fix his camp tent damaged by the rain.
“I didn’t think that much of it (initially) but it came with a vengeance,” Ryan said of the rain. Ryan said he was one of the first people to vote when the polls opened at 8 a.m. and said he voted shortly after others, including Principal Chief John Red Eagle and Assistant Principal Chief Scott BigHorse voted.
Bruce Cass, director of the Nation’s Properties Department, recalled there was a rainstorm the night before the 2010 general election, which also had people scrambling to fix campsites. “Last election, we had a bit of rain, but it’s a blessing and hope everyone is careful.”
Cass said 10 maintenance staffers are working today as event staff to help watch the 300-foot electioneering boundary around the polling site in the Congressional chambers. He also said some workers are driving around the area in golf carts and would help drive people, including elders, around the mud and to the poll if needed.
Candidate Berbon Hamilton and his family worked to set up his campsite under one of the picnic arbors. He said he was looking forward to the day but was having second thoughts about dancing during the Election Day dance this afternoon.
“I was going to dance tonight, but I don’t think I want to get my moccasins wet,” he said.