March 26, 2008 Edition

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Flooding continues to
cause problems in county

Kathi Bonner, an employee with the Walnut Ridge Street Department, works to clear a drain as water rises on a street in Walnut Ridge. Heavy rains on Tuesday and Wednesday caused flash flooding throughout the county, which was further aggravated by the rising rivers.
Submitted Photo ~ Ginger Bibb
Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

Lawrence County is slowly recovering from a deluge of water that poured down the Spring and Black rivers following record setting rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week.

Over a foot of rain was reported in Southeast Missouri on March 11, which translated into swollen rivers.

Lawrence County, saturated from Tuesday's downpour, was already feeling the effects of too much water before the additional flooding from the two rivers.

Area roads and highways were closed due to flooding and many of them may remain closed for a while.

According to Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham many of the county's rural roads are still under water. Highway 412 between Walnut Ridge and Portia is still closed, as well.

Latham did report that one lane of traffic had been opened on Highway 67 between Walnut Ridge and Pocahontas on Tuesday afternoon.

The Black River, which is at flood level at 14 feet, crested at 29.1 feet on March 19. This is the fourth highest crest ever recorded with the highest being 31.9 feet in 1915.

Several areas reported substantial flooding including: Ravenden, Imboden, Black Rock, Powhatan, Portia, Jesup and Strawberry. Some residents in the Portia Bay area, Coffey Addition to Black Rock and Powhatan evacuated their homes because of the flood.

Steve Jones, coordinator for the Lawrence County Office of Emergency Management, said, "The water rose slow enough not to cause any major damage. Some people have water damage, but nothing like the damage in 1982."

Floodwaters are still rising in some areas and it will be a while before the water recedes according to Corp of Engineers spokesperson P.J. Spaul. "It will be a slow decline. This flood was different than most of the floods seen through the flood plain along the Black River. It went places it usually doesn't go."

By Tuesday morning Black River had only dropped to 26.5 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

Spaul also said a levee at Pocahontas was breached on Saturday sending a lot of water into fields and pastures. This displaced a lot of water and may have helped decrease the flooding further down river.

Latham said that FEMA will be in the county by next week. Those with flood damage should contact the County Judge's office at 886-1110 or the communication center at 886-2525.

"Overall we were very fortunate," Latham said. "It could have been much worse. We have a lot of water and it's not going away very fast, but so far most of the damage in the county is minor."

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