Watch now: Tulsa levee system receives $137 million in federal funds for repairs | Politics

The seawall repairs were one of 500 projects totaling $14 billion that the Biden administration announced Wednesday would receive funding through the Corps. The Corps will pay the full cost of the project in advance. Once completed, local government entities will have 30 years to repay the 35% of the project cost for which they are responsible.

Rich Brierre, executive director of the Council of Indian Nations Governments, noted that it is highly unusual for a project such as repairing the dykes to be funded in such a short time.

“With projects of this magnitude, it’s an incredibly short period of time to go from project authorization to full funding in about five years,” Brierre said. “It often takes decades.”

Brierre said more than 10,000 people live behind the dikes, with as many or more working and attending school in the protected areas. The land includes over 4,000 commercial, residential and government parcels valued at approximately $2 billion.

Mayor GT Bynum has worked with Keith to secure funding for the levees since he was a councilman. Citing the 2019 floods as an example, he vividly explained why the reconstruction and repair project was so desperately needed.

“You had 24-hour National Guard personnel whose only job was to run up and down these levees and look for the boils that were the first sign of levee failure, and we were literally calculating how we can get out. TPD in neighborhoods to tell people they might have 10 minutes to get out of their house before it floods,” Bynum said.