Grim Recovery of Ark. Flood Victims Nears Its End
LANGLEY, Ark. – LANGLEY, Ark. (AP) — The grim recovery of bodies after flash flooding tore through a western Arkansas campground was nearing its end Tuesday, as officials awaited DNA tests to confirm that a young girl killed by the rising waters was the final victim.
Rescue crews planned a limited search Tuesday of the Albert Pike Recreation Area, where a wall of water came rushing through early Friday after a heavy storm, killing 20 people. Arkansas State Police Capt. Mike Fletcher said he did not know of anything specific that crews still would be looking for, and that they were not out as of late morning. But he said the search had not officially concluded.
State police are confident the girl whose body was recovered Monday was the last to have been killed by the floodwaters, but Fletcher said he still was waiting on the DNA report Tuesday morning. Authorities said they believe many others first feared missing were camping in other parts of the state, without cell phone coverage.
"We did have some names of individuals whose families did come to us with direct evidence or information of persons present in the park and we believe we have identified all of those individuals in one way or the other," state police spokesman Bill Sadler said.
"Is that to say that there are not any other victims in the Little Missouri River? We can't say that. That is why there is a continuing search and recovery operation under way."
Eighteen of the 20 victims have been publicly identified, among them seven children age 7 or younger. Eight of the 18 were from Louisiana, seven were from Texas and three were from Arkansas.
With the search coming to a close, attention shifted to whether campers received sufficient warnings about the flood. Worried forecasters sent warnings four times in an hour early Friday. But the campground has no sirens, no park ranger on site, poor radio reception and spotty cell phone service.
The U.S. Forest Service is reviewing how to improve communication to remote camp sites in Arkansas and around the country. The challenge officials will face is making safety improvements while still preserving the area's cherished remoteness.
Associated Press Writer Andrew DeMillo contributed to this report from Little Rock, Ark.