Tuesday, December 29, 2015

TOP STORIES >> Motorists rescued after storm

Leader staff writer

The two-day storm that pushed through the state with Winter Storm Goliath led to several water rescues in the area, a boat being used in Dupree Park in Jacksonville and part of Hwy. 67/167 being closed.

Saturday’s weather set an all-time record high for any December date on record, with the mercury hitting 81 degrees. But by the time the winter rain, wind and thunder storm ended Tuesday morning, the highs had settled in at about 52 degrees and are expected to remain there into the new year.

The rain dropped 5.5 inches at Little Rock Air Force Base and about an inch more in North Little Rock, according to the National Weather Service. Many areas in Arkansas saw about 10 inches of rain.

According to Rita Schmitz with the Lonoke County Office of Emergency Management, there was a water rescue at 8 a.m. Monday at the intersection of East Schafer Road and Northcutt Road.

Lonoke and Carlisle Fire Departments responded. Lonoke Fire Chief Jimmy Wal-lace said one of the local farmers had gotten to the woman who was on top of her car before the fire departments arrived. She was not injured.

On Tuesday morning, there were two separate water rescues on Kerr Road.

The downpour caused the state Highway Department to close one southbound lane on Hwy. 67/167 near Coffelt Crossing between Jacksonville and Cabot early Monday.

Jacksonville closed John Harden Drive in the same area after a number of drivers couldn’t make it through the rising flood waters, and the fire department had to rescue two drivers.

“We had called for the boat, but were able to get to them with the big truck,” said Battalion Chief Joe Bratton. He added that police stayed in the area after the rescue warning drivers to detour. The road was blockade through Monday night.

Even though the fire department didn’t need a boat, Parks and Recreation Director Kevin House did to navigate through Dupree Park which had become one giant lake. He used the boat Monday morning to get to the soccer concession stand and secure equipment and take out supplies that might have ruined.

Lake Dupree, with the help of the rain, grew tenfold and spread its water throughout the park. “I won’t be surprised if we find fish on the ball field after the water recedes,” House said, adding that the ball field fences act as a net and traps the fish.

Besides the park and Hwy. 167, Public Works Director Jim Oakley said the only other section still blocked-off late Monday was the one-way bridge on West Main leading into Northlake Subdivision. “That always flood in heavy rains and residents have to go in and out of that subdivision through Sherwood until the bridge opens up again. He also said the railroad underpass are on Hwy. 161 was also closed for a while. “But as far as I know we’ve had no structural or houses damaged by flood water,” Oakley said.

In Cabot, there were just two area affected by the storm, according to Eddie Cook, the city’s director of operations. Main Street by the animal shelter and a section of road near Young’s Tires were closed Monday because of flooding. “Considering Hwy. 167 issues, I think we’ve done pretty well,” he said. Cook added the city has put a lot of effort and money into reducing draining issues over the past six years “and I think this shows it’s paying off.”

Lonoke had some minor flooding on Fourth Street near the courthouse, but other than that no issues were reported.

In Beebe, Milton McCullar, the city’s code enforcement officer, said there was some localized flooding and that Tori Lane was under water. “But we’ve had no flooding of houses or businesses that I’m aware off.:

He was concerned if the rains continued there might be some flooding in the Lynnwood-Meadows Subdivision. “We had problems there in 2011 and 2009, but so far it looks good,” he said.

National Weather Service officials said the storm spawned at lest two EF-1 tornadoes in the state – one near Hampton and one near Bearden, both in the southeastern section of Arkansas. There was damage, but no injuries or deaths were reported.