Franklin, Logan County avoiding much of damage from historic Arkansas River flood

by Tina Alvey Dale (tdale@talkbusiness.net) 568 views 

The iconic Highway 23 bridge in Ozark during a period of normal Arkansas River water flow.

Residents in Franklin and Logan County residents aren’t going to be hit as hard during this historic Arkansas River flooding event than their neighbors up and down the river.

Logan County officials have made a formal written declaration of disaster to the state. Franklin County officials have only made a verbal declaration, according to Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Melody Daniel. But even with the disaster declaration, the counties are doing better than neighboring counties, she said.

Franklin County Judge Rickey Bowman said they have put sandbags in a few homes, and water is under some homes, but has not come into the houses yet. Flood waters did come into one business, but workers were able to pump it out, he said.

“Right now what we are seeing is a lot of inconvenience,” Bowman said.

That inconvenience stems from the flooding-caused closing of State Highway 23 bridge in the southern part of Ozark and portions of State Highway 22 West of Charleston near Fort Chaffee, he added.

“In essence, this has isolated an area of the county. This is a big concern for those who live south of Ozark, even just a mile or two, trying to get to work in Ozark. It’s a concern from my EMS too,” Bowman said. “We can’t get someone south side of Ozark to the hospital in Ozark. We have a route through Chaffee was so we can take them to the hospital in Fort Smith.”

To help with this, Bowman has stationed EMS ambulances at Charleston, Cecil, Webb City and Ozark, he said.

“Our county is split right now, so it’s hard to provide the emergency services we may need to, and it’s inconvenient for people working,” Bowman said. “This is new territory for us. We are seeing history made, and like I keep saying, I don’t want to see history repeat itself.”

Highway 64 out of Ozark is still open, and at least for now, it looks like it will stay that way, Bowman said.

The Arkansas River tailwater at Ozark was at 374.52 feet at 5 p.m. Wednesday (May 29). It is expected to crest at 377 feet Friday, Bowman said. Flood state is 357 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Historic crests were 375.50 feet in 1943, 370 feet in 1990 and 369.07 feet in 2015. The river was running at 544,000 cubic feet per second Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s a lot of water,” Bowman said.

Communities in Logan and Franklin counties have been a great source of help through the ordeal though, Bowman and Daniel said. Volunteer firefighters in Logan County are making extra efforts to help elderly residents who might be somewhat stranded, Daniel said, noting she’s seeing many cases of neighbors helping neighbors throughout the affected areas.

“We have had a lot of community support. CASS Job Corps sent a group of guys over yesterday to  help fill sandbags. The jail let us have some trustees to help too. And we’ve had volunteers and of course my road crews moving sand bags,” Bowman said. “We got everything walled up that we can think of. We’ll have to see if it works.”

He said more problems have occurred with rain Wednesday continuing to raise water levels in the Mulberry River.

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