The port harbor district at Pine Bluff was spared serious flood damage, according to the Economic Development Side, part of the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce's newsletter.
According to the latest report June 7 from the port's slackwater harbor, the flooding Arkansas River crested at Pine Bluff at 50.8 feet. That translates to a river height of 215.5 feet MSL [mean sea level]. That's considered major flood stage — and then some.
High water, indeed, but the harbor's industrial area was largely spared from any serious flood damage. And owners and managers (and employees) of industries located there are cautiously breathing sighs of relief after more than two weeks of uncertainty.
At its creation in the mid-1960s by the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Port Authority, the port's 372-acre Harbor Industrial District was hydraulically filled to an elevation considered well above the 100-year (and even 500-year) flood level. That was fortuitous. In some places there were only inches to spare last week.
The crest of record here is listed at 52.1 feet, experienced in 1943 when the river rose to a height of 216.8 feet.
Comparing those numbers, the 2019 flood will now go down locally as the second highest on record.
It will also have the distinction of recording the highest river crest here since completion of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in 1970. And it topped the infamous 1927 flood crest by almost a foot. It also moved down to third place the 1957 flood that crested at 50.7 feet here.
At last look, the line on the National Weather Service's flood-stage graph for Pine Bluff is finally heading downward. The river is receding. But it will take a while for river traffic to return to normal. And river-using industry owners and managers are once again watching and waiting.