UPDATED: Poinsett County keeps eye on St. Francis River

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – Mayors, police officers, firefighters and other city personnel in Poinsett County Monday told Region 8 News about their concerns with flooding.

According to the National Weather Service, the St. Francis River in Lake City is expected to crest at 15 feet sometime Wednesday or Thursday. At 15 feet, there is a possibility of water overtopping the levee in Lake City. The St. Francis River in Marked Tree is just less than 12 feet.

"As long as those levees hold, we'd have some water but not to the extent it would if something happened, if it breached a levee in one place or another," said Marked Tree Mayor Wayne Nichols. "If the rivers keep coming up and the ditches, the water is going to back up more so than it is now."

Nichols said city crews have been working to clear drainage ditches of debris, but the flow of water is slowing down. He said because ditches and rivers are too full to drain quickly.

"Making sure the tiles are all clear and not any debris in there and keeping the water moving. And trying to get it into the ditches and the river and whatever else," said Nichols. "The gutters and storm sewers and everything are full and it slows it down going into the river."

In Tyronza, volunteer firefighters are on standby to fill sandbags.

"It's a never ending thing right now. The way it looks like, we're going to get anywhere from five more inches of rain unfortunately," said Tommy Bane, Tyronza Fire Chief.

According to Bane, several areas experienced a flash flood Sunday when several inches of rain fell on the town. He said his eyes are also focused on river levees to the north.

"The rivers are full and backing out. We do have some localized flooding in the county at this time," said Bane. "Rivervale, if that levee does break or breach, we will have problems."

Bane said the city has 800 empty sandbags ready to be filled if the need arises.

In other cities, officials are preparing for the worst as well. The Little River in Lepanto is threatening at least one home as it continues to swell.

"We got a lot of rain. We've had a lot of rain for the last 3-4 days. It's just a consistent rain. We're getting some areas in town, pretty much the four corners in town are getting close to the rivers flooding out and getting close to houses," said Captain David Layman with the Lepanto Police Department. "We've done a little bit of preplanning. I've contacted one of the local churches here in town and just asked them if something was to happen and we had to displace anyone, if they could open up their facilities and let us use it as a shelter and they said that they'd be glad to do so."

Layman said he's checked the river levels at Rivervale several times.

"I checked Rivervale about an hour and a half ago and I've seen it that high before and we've made it through it, so hopefully we'll make it through it again," said Layman. "Right now, the big concern would be if something was to happen north of us and send us more water. As a general rule of thumb, if nothing really happens north, we're okay."

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