Governor Beebe flies into Newport for flooding inspection

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JACKSONPORT, AR (KAIT) --Last week, Governor Beebe toured flooded Pocahontas. Today he flew into Newport to visit the flooded areas around Jacksonport.

With the governors arrival still a ways off; We spoke with Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips who said the situation was improving.

Phillips, "The projected crest which is at 34-5 which a couple days ago was 36 and so we couldn't handle 36 so 34-5 which is good news." Phillips said the levees were holding strong. As the helicopters approached I asked Phillips if there was anything specific he wanted the governor to see.

Phillips, "Mainly where the houses are afloat at Oliphant and around where you are going to Oil Trough on 14 where they are already underwater."

Phillips said Beebe would see most of that from the air but he would like him to see the North end levee from the ground.

After landing the governor went by car to Jacksonport State Park. At the park the levee being the highest point had all the parks machinery parked on top of it. Beebe walked down to the water level. "The problem," Beebe says, "Is that these rivers have no where to go. The Mississippi isn't allowing the White or Arkansas or anything to drain into the Mississippi basin because it's so full."

Beebe says you can't really evaluate damage in Northeast Arkansas because the water drains so slowly. "It creates such a problem trying to assess the amount of damage because you can't fully assess it till the flood's gone."

Beebe says FEMA has people on the ground in Arkansas making evaluations to determine if the need is great enough for a presidential declaration. But unlike a tornado he says this evaluation could take a while because there is so much water.

Governor Beebe says a lot of levees and towns need flood mitigation help. That could mean pumps, levee reinforcement or even rebuilding or addition to levees.

Beebe, "Newport, Des Arc and probably farther South. Consider with improvement capital on the levees."

Like Judge Phillips hoped, Beebe traveled over to Taylor Bottoms located about 2 miles North of Jacksonport,  to look at the levee there.

The Army Corps of Engineers has put sandbags and temporary walls to shore up the levee.

Commenting on the number of people that he had brought with him Beebe says it is important to have people that are experienced in disaster recovery or mitigation travel with him.

On the other hand, Governor Beebe says that in the case of disaster, his job is pretty easy when it comes to dealing with the states organizations.

Beebe, "We've gotten so good at disasters because the bad news is we've had so many of them. That I don't have to tell them anything. These agencies know what to do. They are self starters to the point where you half to hold them back a little bit."

After Jacksonport, Beebe headed South to Des-Arc to inspect their levee problems.

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