Jacksonport under mandatory evacuation

JACKSON COUNTY, AR (KAIT)- In Jackson, the town of Jacksonport is under a mandatory evacuation. County officials are fearing the levee might not be high enough.

"Right now the levees are in good shape. We had crews that worked for two days straight strengthening the levee. But we have to possibility of a 36 foot crest in a 35 foot levee," said Jackson County Office of Emergency Management Director Donny Ivie.

After evaluating the situation, Monday Jackson County and city officials decided to call a mandatory evacuation for residents in Jacksonport to North Elgin, and West to HW 17. Deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department went door-to-door Monday to notify residents in the affected areas. Ivie says it's a situation that will affect a number of people. "It's in the neighborhood of 500-600 people, but those numbers could grow from 2,500 to 3,000 people," said Ivie.

Ivie says the Black River could see record breaking numbers. "I think the highest recorded flood was 35 feet in 1945."

Inmates also shoveled and filled sandbags that will be available for anyone who needs them. Andrea Murdock-McDaniel is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers out of Little Rock, but traveled to Newport Monday to help assist. "I'm here to just kind of give hand. We've got a lot of people on the ground providing technical support and working with these wonderful guys in the community here. We're just trying to help them with any support that we can."

Ivie says the Black River is predicted to crest at 36 feet by Thursday, but he wants to make sure the people are ready. He says the biggest concern is that citizens stay calm. "We don't want anyone to panic. Sheriff Lucas said everyone in that area has until 8:00p.m. tomorrow night to get everything out. After that, they won't be allowed back in the area. But right now, the main thing is don't panic," said Ivie.

There shelters available for individuals who might need a place to stay:

  • Remmel Church- 431 Highway 145 S., Newport, AR
  • First Baptist Church in Newport- 217 Main Street, Newport, AR
  • The old Albright Elementary School- 407 Wilkerson Drive, Newport, AR