Arkansas Prepares for Worst Flooding in 25 Years

Flood warnings are in effect for parts of the state expecting minimal rain.

ByABC News via logo
March 24, 2008, 7:27 AM

March 24, 2008 — -- Neglected Arkansas levees proved no match for torrential rains that are poised to cause the worst flooding the state has seen in a quarter century.

The Black River sliced through a 60-year-old levee before emergency workers could stem the tide with a mountain of sandbags Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe declared 35 counties disaster areas and forecasters warned residents along the White River, despite minimal rain in the forecast.

"You may be wondering why we issued a flash flood watch in eastern Arkansas when there is little to no rain in the forecast," John Robinson of the National Weather Service in North Little Rock wrote Sunday in an e-mail to reporters, according to the AP. "There will be water going into areas where people have not seen it before, and may not be expecting to see high water."

Officials warned that the Black and White rivers may not crest until Wednesday and that it remains too dangerous for many residents to return to their evacuated homes.

"It's kind of hard when things happen so fast. You cannot think, but we have our lives and I guess that is the most important thing," said 72-year-old Clara Gabrielsen, who had to be evacuated from her nursing home because of the flooding.

Many residents were forced to leave with little time to prepare.

"It was pretty hectic when we saw the water coming up. We didn't have time to get anything," said Arkansas flood victim Tom Honeycut.

Arkansas emergency management officials have said early estimates for statewide damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure were at $2 million, though that figure was expected to grow, according to the AP.

So far one person is missing in the state because of the floods.

Arkansas isn't the only region seeing flood-related problems. Last week rains submerged parts of the Midwest and this week, though the rains may have ceased, the rivers continue cresting and causing massive damage.