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Flooded Oklahoma counties sandbag homes, blockade roadways as more rain forecast to move in

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TULSA, Oklahoma — Residents of flooded Oklahoma counties hurriedly filled sandbags Thursday and highway crews closed off more than two-dozen roads as workers tried to stanch the flow of water from a week's worth of rain.

Some residents in the most flooded counties along the border with hard-hit Texas had yet to get back to or out of their homes Thursday, as rescue crews helped clear pathways to them.

"There are people who have not been able to return to their homes, who are trapped in their neighborhoods, and so may roads are washed out, some roads are under water, so that's restricting where people travel," said Keli Cain, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Cain said rescuers were still trying to estimate the number of residents displaced or left homeless by the recent flooding.

Relief efforts have also come, but at a slow clip, as many resources have been also used in numerous rescue operations in Texas.

A sandbag machine was delivered by local rescue and military groups to a community in Marshall County where residents are preparing for more water to swell by the end of the week.

In the same county, several bridges that service main roads there are flooded, boxing in some of the county's residents. Other hard-hit counties include Atoka and LeFlore.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation issued an update Thursday detailing nearly 30 roads in at least 18 predominantly rural counties that had been closed due to high water or damage from recent flooding. The agency advised motorists not to drive into high water and turn around if possible.

"Things are changing so rapidly," said agency spokeswoman Mills Gotcher, who advised travelers to frequently check the agency's website and local media reports. "We're prepared for everything, and we'll respond and do everything to keep the traveling public safe."

Forecasters say more flood-causing storms could be in Oklahoma's future during the next few days.

After rains Thursday night, even more rain is forecast for Friday night into Saturday across much of north-central and central Oklahoma, with the potential for widespread totals of 1 to 3 inches and localized areas with as much as 5 to 6 inches of rain, amounts that could easily result in flash flooding.

"If we get 1 to 2 inches in an hour, that's going to cause flash flooding almost anywhere, as waterlogged as we are," Austin said. "It's really not going to take much."

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