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The Latest: O’Rourke tours Oklahoma flood damage

June 3, 2019
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In this aerial image provided by Yell County Sheriff's Department water rushes through the levee along the Arkansas River in Dardanelle, Ark., on Friday, May 31, 2019. Officials say the levee breached early Friday at Dardanelle, about 60 miles northwest of Little Rock. (Yell County Sheriff's Department via AP)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on flooding in the U.S. (all times local):

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3:30 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke toured some flood damage in Oklahoma as the waters began to recede and storm-weary residents gutted waterlogged homes.

O’Rourke said Sunday that if he is elected, he will direct federal grants to invest in communities before natural disasters strike because they are expected to get worse as the global climate warms.

In the Tulsa suburb of Sand Springs, residential streets covered in silt deposited by floodwaters are lined with dumpsters full of soggy couches, carpet, drywall and insulation as the community addresses the damage.

Jamie Casto helped clean up her 65-year-old uncle’s house, where a rust-colored line indicated floodwaters got about 4 feet high inside.

Casto said her uncle was told the house is in a 500-year flood plain and he does not have flood insurance.

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12 p.m.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in three Oklahoma counties that have been devastated by flooding, tornadoes and other severe storms.

The declaration allows federal assistance for Muskogee, Tulsa and Wagoner counties, which have experienced record-breaking flooding and intense tornadoes since May 7.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt says the state will request that additional counties be added to the declaration.

Across the state, severe weather has killed six people and injured 118. Officials say more than 900 homes have been damaged, including 335 which were destroyed.

Assistance will include funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, low-interest federal loans, disaster unemployment assistance, and possible grants.

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10:30 a.m.

Officials from an Arkansas community where a levee breached say the risk of widespread flooding has abated because the Arkansas River crested without inundating the city.

Dardanelle Mayor Jimmy Witt said in a Facebook post Saturday night that he thinks the city of about 4,700 people “will be ok” after the flow of water toward the community began to slow.

The river on Friday made a 40-foot (12-meter) hole in a levee near in Dardanelle, which is roughly 100 miles (160 kilometers) upstream from Little Rock.

Nearby rural communities were flooded, though some residents had already evacuated.

Yell County Office of Emergency Management Director Jiff Gilkey says the river never reached a temporary levee that Dardanelle built to protect its southern border.

Floodwaters have crested in Dardanelle and levels should begin slowly dropping soon.

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