April 30, 2014 Edition

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Storm system dumps
rain, causes damage

Wells Creek Road, located near Ravenden, is impassable after floodwaters washed out the roadbed. Heavy rains proved to be the most damaging part of the storm system for Lawrence County.

Gretchen Hunt

A storm system that passed through Lawrence County during the overnight hours on Sunday resulted in several tornado warnings, but fortunately, no tornados in this area.

Others in Arkansas, such as residents of Vilonia and Mayflower, were not as fortunate, and Lawrence County's good fortune was further emphasized on Monday as individuals in the county began finding items that had been picked up by tornados in those towns.

One such item was a form from Construction Waste Management Inc. in Mayflower, which was found in Black Rock.

Jimmy Hubbard of Lynn, who farms between Strawberry and Saffell, said he found several items, including photographs, that were believed to be from the Vilonia area.

"A neighbor also found a picture that said Vilonia FFA," he said. "I found one photo of eight or 10 girls going to prom."

Residents of Strawberry and Saffell were among those who sought cover when tornado warnings were issued, but Hubbard said like the rest of the county, the most damaging part of the storm was the rain.

"We had a lot of lightning and thunder and wind and even saw some golf ball sized hail," he said. "Mostly though, we got a lot of rain. I measured five-and-and-a-half inches of rain and one guy in Lynn said six inches."

That rain has caused the rivers to come out of their banks and Lake Charles to rise. Highways and county roads that went under water during the storm were closed, and damage has caused some roads to remain closed.

One such road is Wells Creek Road near Ravenden, which was completely washed out by the floodwaters.

County Judge Dale Freeman said the Lawrence County Road Department has been working to get the roads passable again.

"We are close to having them where people can get out, but we are a long way from having them fixed," he said. "There is a tremendous amount of damage."

He said in the western part of the county many roads were washed out, while in the eastern part many remain under water.

Freeman said the county applied for disaster assistance from FEMA on Tuesday morning.

According to Lawrence County Dispatch, there have been no reports of structural damage in Lawrence County related to the storm and no injuries were reported.

"We were fortunate," Freeman said. "Things could have been much worse."

Residents asked to conserve water

As a result of the flooding, the NEA Public Water Authority requested residents to conserve water, by limiting activities like washing dishes and doing laundry.

The issue was expected to be resolved quickly, but residents were asked to limit their water use until the river recedes.

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