Share

River nears crest in west Arkansas, but more rainfall looms

Share

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — Brad Hindley planned to be vacationing on a lake this week. Instead, he’s been on a boat in his swamped Fort Smith neighborhood trying to keep gas in generators that are pumping water from his flooded home in Arkansas’ second largest city.

“We’ve got lakefront property now. Right up to the front door,” said Hindley, a 45-year-old FedEx worker who is among thousands of residents along the Arkansas-Oklahoma border impacted by widespread flooding along the swollen Arkansas River.

Heavy rainfall on Wednesday has intensified flooding in the already saturated region, where the river has hit record water levels. Officials said an aging levee system was holding up despite a rush of water coming downstream from rain-soaked Oklahoma and Kansas.

Still, the river was nearly twice the level it was 10 days ago and flash-flood warnings were issued across the region Wednesday.

“Just because the river has crested doesn’t mean we’re out of danger,” said Col. Bob Dixon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Trending:
$181 Million Settlement Means Americans in 24 States Who Bought Chicken Between 2009 and 2020 Could Be Eligible for Payout

Hindley and his family began piling sandbags around their home Friday. By Sunday, Hindley and his wife Wendy, along with their three children, had to evacuate to his father’s home, which wasn’t expected to flood.

“We sandbagged for two days in vain. The water found its way in,” said Bart Hindley, 71.

Brad Hindley said his house is in a 500-year flood plain, meaning the chances of flooding were so remote that he didn’t obtain flood insurance. Now, he said he’s not sure what his family will do when the waters recede.

“Get a big loan. Start over,” his father suggested, as another round of heavy rain began.

“It’s overwhelming because you can’t do anything. The water had the power,” the elder Hindley added. “You can’t block water. It’s coming whether you do stuff or not.”

Brad Hindley agreed: “We’re handcuffed,” he said.

Officials said hundreds of homes could flood in Fort Smith. Across the border in Oklahoma’s Muskogee County, the conditions have already prompted the evacuations of more than 2,400 people and flooded nearly 1,100 homes, according to the local emergency management department.

The new rain was expected to make matters worse because the excess water has nowhere to drain.

Dixon said the levee system will be strained as the water moves downstream into Arkansas. Record crests are predicted at several sites, and two levees have already been topped in rural areas of Arkansas.

Related:
Teacher Says 'Positive Behavior' Like 'Sitting Quietly,' 'Following Directions' Is White Supremacy

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday that more than 400 homes have been voluntarily evacuated because of the flooding. The Republican said he directed another $250,000 in state funds toward the flood response and requested federal assistance from the Trump administration. Hutchinson last week directed $100,000 in state funds toward the flood’s response.

Swollen rivers are also causing problems along the Nebraska-Iowa border, where some residents are facing evacuations just weeks after thousands of people in the region were forced from their homes because of flooding.

In Arkansas, Dixon said the water in Fort Smith should soon begin receding, but he said that would likely take weeks. The river was at about 40 feet (12 meters) on Wednesday, breaking the previous record crest of 38 feet (11.5 meters) that was set in 1945.

At least one death has been blamed on the flooding.

“This is a flood of historic magnitude. It surpasses all Arkansas River flooding in our recorded history,” Hutchinson said Wednesday at a news conference with state emergency officials. “That should be enough to get everybody’s attention.”

The rush of water is coming as the Army Corps of Engineers releases water from a hydroelectric dam northwest of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to help drain the swollen Keystone Lake reservoir. The reservoir drains a watershed of more than 22,000 square miles (57,000 square kilometers) in areas of northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas that have been hit by heavy rain.

The water is being released from the reservoir at 275,000 cubic feet per second (7,787 cubic meters), roughly the amount of water needed to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The Corps said Wednesday that the releases would be reduced by Saturday to 150,000 cubic feet per second (4247 cubic meters). The release is necessary to prevent the reservoir from spilling over and enabling floodwaters to flow uncontrolled down the river, according to Preston Chasteen, spokesman for the Corps’ Tulsa District.

“If these dams weren’t in place to control these releases, I think the circumstances would be far worse than they currently are,” he said Tuesday.

___

Associated Press writers Tim Talley in Oklahoma City, and Jill Bleed and Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, and contributed to this report.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation