May 10, 2017 Edition

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Recovery efforts begin
for flood of 2017

Hoxie High School athletes joined other community volunteers to fill sandbags at the Walnut Ridge City Shop last Wednesday. The sandbags were for anyone in the county needing them for protection from flooding. Shown are (standing, from left): Michael Eppes, Drake Mounts, Harley Cullins, Josh Ferguson, Chris Wyrick; (kneeling, front) Amos Bonner, Chandler Spradlin and Chase Moore.
TD Photos ~ John Bland

TD Staff

The flood of spring 2017 will join the ranks of historic floods in recent decades, including the floods of 1982 and 2011. Which of the three is worse might depend on where you live and how it affected you.

Heavy rains, with accumulations of several inches, fell overnight on Saturday, April 29, into Sunday, April 30, in parts of Missouri and Arkansas. After some localized flash flooding, creeks and rivers began to swell. As the Black River rose several feet beyond flood stage, levees began to breach in the Pocahontas area on Tuesday.

While the breaches helped elevate flooding in East Pocahontas, the Black River floodwaters gushed across parts of Lawrence County, causing the closure of U.S. Hwy. 63, between Hoxie and Portia. Flooding was reported in Clover Bend, Portia and the Coffman communities. Other areas narrowly escaped the waters, by chance or the relief of the Running Water drainage ditch.

Churches and communities sprang into action, and emergency shelters were opened in Walnut Ridge and Black Rock. The city of Walnut Ridge, with the assistance of a number of area volunteers and Hoxie School athletes, spent most of Wednesday filling sandbags to make available for anyone in the county needing them to help prevent flooding of their homes or businesses.

As of Tuesday, U.S. Hwy. 67 remained closed between the Lawrence County line and east Pocahontas. Hwy. 412, west of Walnut Ridge, was also still closed, as were Highway 25 between Black Rock and Powhatan and Highway 228 at Clover Bend, as well as several county roads. Hwy. 63, between Hoxie and Portia, was reopened to traffic on Friday.

At Monday night's Lawrence County Quorum Court meeting, County Judge John Thomison reported that floods had blown out two cross drains on county roads that had since been repaired.

He noted there are county roads still under water and that housing damage and other damages still need to be assessed. The county is waiting on FEMA and Federal declarations of disaster for funding. Those able to assess damage should report to the county judge's office.

Justice of the Peace Heath Davis said, "as long as water is coming down Running Water, the flooded areas won't go down."

Davis also praised the support of the local community and the National Guard.

U.S. Congressman Rick Crawford, the secretary of agriculture and other officials conducted a flyover to assess damage.

Officials have been discussing long-term drainage improvements, but relief and recovery efforts are taking priority at the moment.

The Quorum Court commended local businesses, churches and other organizations and individuals for their support.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management states that people who have suffered damages to their primary residences are encouraged to report their damages to make officials aware. Individuals in Lawrence County are urged to report in person to the county judge's office at the courthouse.

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