Published March 19, 2008
Rain storms that crept over Arkansas caused flooding Wednesday that made numerous roadways impassable, left people evacuated from their homes and also left two people missing after their vehicles were swept away by rushing waters.
Sheriff's deputies in Independence County pulled a mother and her 5-year-old daughter from high, swift waters from the White River after their car was inundated.
In Baxter County, sheriff's deputies used a helicopter to rescue about a dozen people from Norfolk Village, where the White River flooded.
As rains ended Wednesday, water in many places began to recede and roads again became passable. But roads that were subject to river flooding could be blocked through at least Thursday. The White River and other waterways were to crest overnight.
More than 12 inches of rain fell in Mountain Home, and elsewhere rain totals of 4 or more inches were common.
The Spring and Buffalo rivers in northern Arkansas were swollen; the Buffalo National River closed access to the river, and its campgrounds were flooded.
At Jacksonport State Park in northeast Arkansas, officials closed the campground, picnic area and boat ramp because of flooding from the White River. Other park facilities remained open. The park is at the confluence of the Black and White rivers.
Some schools closed in areas with flooding.
At West Fork in Washington County, a man swept away by flood waters on Tuesday still had not been found as of Wednesday afternoon. Searchers found the truck Clint Caudle, 48, was in but it was unoccupied.
In Stone County, a man remained missing Wednesday afternoon. The man's vehicle was washed from Arkansas 263 near Timbo on Tuesday. Sheriff Todd Hudspeth said Wednesday that searchers would resume work once the weather breaks.
"We weren't doing any good with the rainfall and the large amounts of water," Hudspeth said. "Baxter County is on standby with a helicopter. They'll do in five minutes what it will take a day for us to do on foot."
The state highway department on Wednesday closed U.S. Highway 63 between Walnut Ridge and the Sharp-Lawrence county line. Department spokesman Randy Ort said there was water over the highway in at least four locations and the road would be closed until at least Thursday.
At Calico Rock, officials said Arkansas 5 was closed because of flooding over the road. Also, Jenkins Dock at Calico Rock broke loose and floated downstream until it crashed into the Arkansas Highway 5 bridge.
Ort said water over most flooded roads would start to recede once the rain stops. But roads covered by river flooding were another matter.
"The Corps of Engineers says the Spring River (near Walnut Ridge) probably is not going to crest until tonight and that it won't come down to its current level until tomorrow. Well, there's water over the roadway now," Ort said.
"Roads with river flooding might take longer," he said.
Washington County sheriff's Sgt. Arlo Guthary said Wednesday that residents were being asked to stay away from moving water.
Overnight, Guthary said deputies got plenty of calls, but no life-threatening emergencies.
"Most of the calls last night were people trying to go into places they shouldn't be. But we're not losing any people, we're just losing vehicles at this point," he said.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department reported closed state roads in 16 counties, from Crawford to Randolph counties.
The weather service said that over 36 hours, rainfall of 5 to 7 inches was widespread over northern and western Arkansas. Some areas got much more, including Mountain Home, where 12.1 inches fell, and Searcy with 11.1 inches.
In Newton County, 9.42 inches fell at Deer. The Mena airport logged 8.35 inches, and Calico Rock had 8.16 inches. The town of Caney in Marion County had 8.12 inches.
Between 7 and 8 inches fell at Carver, Blanchard Springs, Mammoth Spring and Crooked Creek.
Numerous areas received between 6 and 7 inches, including sites in Baxter, Fulton, Johnson, Logan, Newton, Polk, Pope, Scott, Sharp and Yell counties.
Some communities got 5 to 6 inches including Harrison, Devil's Knob, Center Ridge, Hattieville and Shirley. Between 4 and 5 inches fell in Faulkner and Pike counties.
Hot Springs got 3.82 inches, Sheridan got 2.01 inches and North Little Rock recorded 2.11 inches.