Thursday, December 31, 2015

TOP STORY >> Flood cleanup underway

Leader staff writer

Several Beebe residents living along Tori Lane in the Windwood subdivision returned to their houses Wednesday after floodwater receded.

Heavy rains earlier this week, caused water in Cypress Bayou to rise on Monday afternoon.

Beebe Fire and Rescue helped residents of five houses on Tori Lane evacuate as waters climbed towards their homes. Firefighters helped families walking through the water. Some areas were waist-deep. White County has been declared a disaster area.

The area flooded on Oct. 31, 2009, Dec. 24, 2009, and again on May 2, 2011.

Floodplain coordinator Milton McCullar said all the residents had places to go to spend Monday night. Some had returned Tuesday as the water receded.

Linda Alvis, who lives at 1016 Tori Lane, said, “It was depressing and shocking. It had happened so fast.”

Alvis has lived in her house for two years. The floodwater got on the porch but did not enter her house.

“People told me it was a flood area. The landlord said she thought it was fixed,” Alvis said.

Some residents blame the railroad for the flooding after removing several trestle bridges back in the 1980s.

“The police advised us to evacuate. We had to go to a motel for the night. It was a good thing I left. It got deep. It was amazing,” Alvis said.

James Holliday purchased his home on 1027 Tori Lane in October. Holliday said he was not aware it was in a floodplain.

His family was at the hospital on Monday awaiting the birth of their new daughter. He came home Monday evening to get things for the baby. He was there a few hours as the water crested. He could not back his truck out of the driveway. He had to wade in the water to the next road over and had a friend pick him up.

“The ditch in front fills up with water every time it rains, but has never come this close to the house. I had lakefront property. It did not get into the house. It got to the back bumper of the truck,” Holliday said.

Wednesday was the first day Holliday was able to get back to the house. He was not sure what damage had been done.

Water entered his garage, which was two feet lower than the house. The water moved a deep freezer in the garage. He said two lawnmowers and power tools in the garage were probably ruined. His barbecue grill in the yard floated three feet away and tipped over.

Kristy Peacock, a resident of 1014 Tori Lane, said the city was helpful during the flooding. Police thought it was best if their family evacuated. They stayed and did not lose electricity.

She said the flood water did not reach into their house, but they had to pull their car up. They were able to access another street on higher ground from their backyard.

“We were prepared to get out if we had to,” her husband, Lance said.

Linda Crider of 1006 Tori Lane said, “I was worried. I wasn’t sure if the water was going to stop. It was pretty scary not knowing if after you go to bed you will have to get up at 2 a.m. and decide whether to stay or abandon ship.”

McCullar reported only one house at 1031 Tori Lane had water inside and it was vacant.

The house was previously condemned by the city in 2013 after it was declared more than 50-percent substantially damaged from flooding in 2009. To comply with the city’s floodplain ordinance, once a house is declared substantially damaged it must be either elevated, relocated or demolished. The owners received $5,000 in federal funds to do any of the three actions and did neither. They wanted to rent it out or sell it to another buyer.

McCullar said most of the houses in the Windwood subdivision were built between 1998 and 2001.

“Some houses were built in a Zone A flood zone that did not have an established base flood elevation. FEMA started a preliminary study but did not finish the detailed study until 2005,” McCullar explained.

McCullar said an amended city ordinance requires the lowest floor of a house to be two feet above the base flood elevation. The area that flooded in Windwood has 220 base flood elevation. The vacant house at 1031 Tori Lane is at a 217 base flood elevation. It will have to be elevated five feet to be occupied.