The good news is that contrary to most media coverage, the flooding in Missouri and Arkansas is not as abnormal or severely widespread as reported. While river levels remain high and may climb higher, the damage to homes thus far is not overwhelming the ability of local agencies to respond. We are happy to report that residential areas and businesses affected are handling the situation well and seem to be on the right track. We will continue to monitor the situation but will not be deploying a volunteer project at this time.
What we have found since the last update:
In Poplar Bluff, MO we met with county firefighters and spoke with the county emergency manager. Like most other affected Missouri towns, apparent damage was much less than the reported amount. We decided to move into Arkansas and continue our assessment there.
Swollen rivers in Arkansas are very high and some farmland is under water, but overall levees and flood plains are functioning and holding the floodwater at a safe distance from concentrated residential areas.
In Norfolk, Arkansas we met with the local fire chief and Baxter County emergency manager. Norfolk had about 60 homes with major flood damage but with the help of their volunteer fire department they had most of the cleanup completed and seemed to be well on their way to recovery. Baxter County is also home to Gassville, AR where our latest US relief project was located a few weeks ago. Click here for more info on Project Gassville.
Des Arc, Prairie County, AR:
The greater Des Arc community was by far the most affected region that we assessed. The initial estimates that we received en route reported that a couple of hundred homes were still under water. When we arrived that number dropped to 80-120 homes affected. We estimate that the county has somewhere around 60 affected homes overall. The amount of water in each affected home varies from 2 inches to several feet. The floodwater in Des Arc is receding but most of the homes affected are surrounded by water and are still not accessible. The Des Arc area was hit by major flooding in 1973, 1982 and some minor flooding in 2002.
The water in Des Arc and Prairie County will not fully recede for at least another week and a half. After talking with the county judge, county emergency manager and a few locals, we did not sense that they felt overwhelmed by the situation and seemed confident that when the waters receded their community would be able to handle most of the recovery. We will continue to check in with Prairie County but don’t anticipate having a volunteer project there at this time.
The HODR Mobile Command Unit is back on the road headed toward Boston.