December 30, 2009 Edition

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LawCo. experiences wet Christmas



This was the Christmas afternoon scene of flooded business parking lots along Highway 67B North in Walnut Ridge. The area received approximately 2.02 inches of rain on Dec. 23 and 4.95 inches on Dec. 24.
TD Photo ~ John Bland

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

A seven-inch rainfall on Dec. 23-24 brought rivers up and filled creeks and ditches to capacity flooding yards, parking lots and streets in Lawrence County. Many streets and county roads were under water by Christmas Eve and some of them were closed because they had become impassible.

Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham said as many as 25 county roads were under water on Dec. 24 and Calvin Crossing and Paradise Road are still flooded. Black River remains out of its banks in most of the flood plain.

Latham said that this has been one of the wettest years in Lawrence County history.

"We've had over 75 inches of rain this year," Latham said. "The ground is saturated. We have had water across blacktop roads that usually don't flood. There has been damage to the roadbed and some rural bridges and culverts have lost dirt from around them."

Latham also said that it will take a while to get all the roads graded and back in shape.

"We will try to get to them as fast as we can," Latham said. "We have 1,492 miles of road which are wet and frozen in many places. Please be patient and we will get them back in shape as fast as we can."

Hoxie streets were also water covered on Dec. 24. The worst flooding took place on the north side of town affecting Midway Road, Edgar, Annie, Detroit, Towne, Oak, Jefferson and Carolina streets, Horseshoe Drive and Roberta Drive. On the south side of town Hickory, Southwest Lawrence, Randolph, Lindsey, Broad and Front streets and Sullins Road were flooded.

According to Hoxie Mayor Donnie Roberts many of the streets were also damaged due to the standing water. "Water is bad for asphalt," Roberts said. "We've got a lot of potholes now from the flooding over the Christmas holiday."

Bud McLaughlin, mayor of Black Rock, said the town did not suffer excessive flooding during the heavy rains on Christmas Eve. "Flood water covered only a short portion of Main Street and the low areas that usually flood during heavy rainfall."

"We had no substantial damage this time," he said.

Flooding was also a problem in Walnut Ridge.

"When you get that much rain in such a short time it can cause some real problems," Walnut Ridge Mayor Michelle Rogers said. "We have some areas that are still underwater and we will have to wait until it recedes to assess the damage."

Many streets in Walnut Ridge were flooded but remained passable on Christmas Eve according to Rogers.

"Our worst problems were Northeast Third, Fourth Street and Highland and Southeast Seventh near Flippo's.

Only two were closed to traffic during the flooding. They were Colonial Drive and Luther Bridge Road.

"We have the usual pothole problems that are a result of water standing on the roads," Rogers said. "We will assess the streets to see if there is other damage as soon as we can."

In the western part of the county flooding made roads at Jessup impassible over the Christmas holiday. Firemen rescued two people from floodwaters at the intersection of Highways 115 and 117 on Christmas Eve. They were boated to safety and transported to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Emergency workers were again called to Jesup on Dec. 25 when a woman and her two grandsons became stranded in a van while trying to drive through floodwaters. Rescuers used a four-wheeler to transport them to safety.

Captain Jody Dotson said there were road-closed signs indicating that the roads were impassible.

"Attempting to travel through floodwaters not only endangers your own life it endangers the lives of those who have to rescue you," Dotson said. "Road closed signs are there for a reason."

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