AP NEWS

Officials: Arkansas River levels drop, but still not safe

June 10, 2019
In this Sunday, June, 9, 2019 photo, Josh Vanwie from Denver, Colo., watches the Arkansas River from Riverfront Park in Little Rock, Ark. Authorities say that even though the Arkansas River is now receding and conditions are improving, the water is still dangerous and should be avoided. (Jeff Mitchell, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas River is receding and conditions are improving, but boaters should stay away because the water is still dangerously fast, authorities said.

The river has dropped below the flood stage in in Van Buren, Ozark and Dardanelle but remained unstable in Pine Bluff and Pendleton, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a small-craft warning for the Arkansas River in April . The Corps typically issues such a warning when a body of water reaches a speed in excess of 70,000 cubic feet per second. The river was flowing at two or three times that speed in parts in late May .

Jeff Hood, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in North Little Rock, noted that even though the river is below flood stage at Dardanelle, it’s still moving at 250,000 cubic feet per second. He added that the water won’t be safe until at least July.

“The water is moving fast, and debris is also in there,” Corps spokesman Laurie Driver said. “If your boat isn’t larger than a tugboat, then you shouldn’t be on the water.”

Faulkner County officials were worried about a breach of the levee at Lollie Bottoms on Thursday. But during the weekend, the levee held its ground.

“The water is off the levee,” County Judge Jim Baker said. “The grand ole levee held.”

But the flooding inflicted more damage than expected.

“There is so much destruction there,” Baker said. “It was bigger than anything we could have anticipated. Nobody saw it coming.”

President Donald Trump on Saturday approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s request for more than $27 million to meet housing needs across eight flooded counties .

In a letter Gov. Hutchinson sent to Trump on Friday, the governor estimated the state will need more than $8 million in cleanup funds and $100 million for infrastructure repairs. He added that those figures could change as water levels continue to drop and reveal damage.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management urged those affected to record their damages.

“Contact your local emergency management agency because we are in the process of getting federal assistance,” agency spokesman Melody Daniel said.

___

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.