Friday, May 05, 2017

TOP STORY >> Over 60 homes flood in area

Leader staff writer

Nearly two dozen Jacksonville homes and 21 apartments suffered some kind of water or flooding damage in last weekend’s storms, and the city is passing on the information to county officials in hopes that the county judge declares parts of the city a disaster area.

The latest round of rains put the city garage and maintenance building under two inches of water and waters are still receding from Dupree Park.

“So we don’t know what kind of damage we have there yet,” said City Engineer Jay Whisker.

A number of houses near Marshall and Harris roads flooded because Rocky Branch breeched its banks.

Whisker told the Jacksonville City Council he is still seeking damage information from area residents. “I want anyone who suffered damage to call so we can verify it and add it to the list we are sending the county,” he said.

Residents can call him at 501-982-6071.

Sherwood is doing the same. Mayor Virginia Young said the city has a wide area with minor damage for the most part, but Tracy Sims, Sherwood’s emergency manager, has been out taking pictures and verifying damage to turn over to the county. Sims said he’s been out everyday since early Sunday checking damage. And latest totals were 40-plus homes and one business. He said most of it was three to four inches of floodwater in the homes.

“A lot of wetness but not much structural damage,” he said.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said his city fared pretty well “considering it was the worse extended flood event in decades. We had water in one house and one business shop.” He added that the city has spent millions over recent years on flood control, and it showed. “We had some street flooding, but overall, very little damage.”

Even though Jacksonville suffered some flooding and a number of roads were underwater for a time, Public Works Director Jimmy Oakley said little damage was done to the roadways.

Mayor Gary Fletcher explained that Jacksonville sits in a bow and when there is regional or statewide heavy rainfall Jack’s Bayou backs up from all the water coming downstream, plus the ridge near Vilonia keeps water in the Jacksonville area. “At times it is difficult to deal with,” he said, adding, “Our prayers are with the people of Pocahontas and northeast Arkansas where a number of deaths occurred.”

The latest round of storms Wednesday and Thursday dropped about 2 inches of rain onto an already saturated area, as April was the wettest since 1991 and the 13th wettest on record.

What made it so bad was that the rain was not spread out during the month. Nearly two-thirds of the 10-plus inches that fell in the month came in the last five days.

On April 29 and 30 the area saw 5.11 inches of rain, the sixth highest 24-hour period of rain ever recorded in April, plus it nearly matched the 5.14 inches of rain central Arkansas normally gets through the entire month of April.

A new rainfall record for April 26 was set for Little Rock Air Force Base when 1.89 inches fell, breaking the old record of 1.14 inches set 60 years ago.

That was followed by more than three inches hitting the area April 29 and another 2.27 inches April 30.

The rain from the late April storms set eight different all-time short duration rainfall records. New records were set for the most rain in a 10-minute period, 15 minute, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 80 minutes and 150 minutes.

The Cabot Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with the American Red Cross to collect donations for the flood victims of northeast Arkansas. Chamber officials said they are in need of paper towels, paper plates, plastic forks and spoons, and individually wrapped food items.

Items can be dropped off at the chamber by Tuesday or call 501-843-2136 for pickup.