Flooding this week will be minor in comparison to that seen earlier this month. However, some roadways near the Arkansas River will experience high water.
Many Jefferson County residents are still working to recover from historic flooding that struck the area in the beginning of June. Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management Director Karen Blevins said that recovery has been going slow but steady so far.
“We have the recovery teams that are out, and we have assigned them to different neighborhoods,” Blevins said. “Each team is canvassing their neighborhoods going through and helping. They are trying to prioritize, so they are helping the ones who need help the most. We are making some progress, but it is slow going.”
Areas of Jefferson County along the Arkansas River are expected to go back into minor flood stage by Friday with a projected crest of 42.5 feet. This is due to recent heavy rains that fell in western Arkansas. Flood stage at Pine Bluff is 42 feet. It will be well below the 50.83-foot crest in early June, but could still set recovery efforts back a few days, Blevins said.
“There will be some roads that will have water on them, so it will definitely affect that,” Blevins said. “There shouldn’t be any houses that will be flooded, but it will cover some roads.”
Blevins said that Jefferson County had several areas that were hit very hard by flooding.
“I would say that Swan Lake and up in the Wright area was pretty bad,” Blevins said. “Not all of the Wright area was bad, but some of the areas were. Maynard Road, in particular, was one of the areas that was bad.
“Swan Lake is bad. The road itself is covered in sand where it washed up. It almost looks like you are at the beach because sand is piled up so high.”
One resident from Wright who asked not to be named said that his house may be able to be salvaged, but many of his neighbors will more than likely lose everything.
“Maynard Road is totally wiped out,” the resident said. ”It is probably a 100 percent loss. I may be able to save my house, but it has to be gutted. It’s time to find out if I can rebuild or not. I finally found a reputable contractor, so I should know by Monday.”
Blevins said that the help from several community and church organization volunteers has been tremendous toward recovery efforts, especially for elderly and disabled residents who do not have the means to do as much work.
“There is no way some of these people have the funds, or even the capabilities physically to go in,” Blevins said.
“It is elderly people and people with special needs that can’t do it. They can’t go in and get the mud out of their houses. These teams are just awesome. They go in and clean out that mud, help tear out the drywall, carpeting and whatever flooring is damaged. It is just a true blessing to these people to have people who are willing to give themselves to help in this heat and all of the nastiness of being in the mud and all of that.”
There are still a couple of shelters in operation, but one is expected to close later this week.
“Right now there are still two – one at Wright and one at Swan Lake,” Blevins said. “They are slowly getting out of there. I believe the Wright shelter is going to be closing this week. Right now there is no one who is staying there, but they are going there during the day as a cooling place, and they have lunch there.”