April 2, 2008 Edition

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Rain falls as county
recovers from flood

These submerged cars along Coffey Creek in Black Rock show how deep the water level was in the Coffey Addition last week. The creek is on the rise again due to additional rain.
Submitted Photo ~ Mike Gray
Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

As the county began cleaning up following last week's flooding, yet another round of rain has brought rising water back to the Black and Spring rivers.

The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for both rivers. The Black River was at 25 feet and rising at 6 a.m. Tuesday with the level expected to be at 26 feet by today and Spring River was at 21.5 and expected to begin falling by today.

Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham said that some of the county roads were back under water again.

"We don't have the amount of water we had last week but the water is coming back up over some county roads especially in the 400 area and in the bottoms," Latham said.

Last week's flooding left several thousand acres of land under water in Lawrence County.

Farm Service Agency Director Rickey Goff said that an estimated 6,000-7,000 acres of winter wheat have been underwater or are still underwater.

"There has been substantial damage to the wheat crop," Goff said. "A large percentage of it has been lost. The longer the water stands the worse the damage. The water is going to have to go down before we can assess the damage."

Mayor Bud McLaughlin reported that cleanup is underway at Black Rock. Most of the streets are open and everyone has access to their homes again.

Rainfall and a rising Black River have many of the residents nervous about additional flooding though.

McLaughlin said that flooding has closed West Main Street again and that Coffey Creek was already starting to overflow.

"Highway 25 between Black Rock and Powhatan has been closed again," he said. If we get another big round of rain on Thursday, I don't know what will happen. Right now none of the houses are flooded but with more rain predicted it's a wait and see proposition."

According to an e-mail from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) federal disaster aid has been made available for Arkansas to supplement state and local recovery efforts. Lawrence County is included in the list of counties declared a disaster area.

FEMA is scheduled to be in Lawrence County today to do a preliminary assessment of flood damage according to Judge Latham.

"Once they have done an assessment, we will know if we qualify for disaster assistance," he said.

The National Weather Service has predicted the possibility of heavy rainfall on Thursday and a chance of still further flooding. The Weather Service has released a statement that additional flooding throughout the Mississippi River Basin is expected during the spring season and that residents should remain alert to the dangers of flash floods.

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