Volunteers needed to fill sandbags in Poinsett County

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

PAYNEWAY/WEONA, AR (KAIT) – Residents in Poinsett County continue to fill sandbags and construct temporary levees as water backs up from the nearby floodway. According to the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River at Helena will not recede until Wednesday night. Residents said the flood water in Payneway and Weona will begin to recede when the river levels drop in Helena.

"It won't go down until the water starts falling at Helena, south of us here. When it starts falling at Helena, then it'll get relief here. The Mississippi River falls down, then this here will start falling," said Larry Grissom.

The river stage in Helena is 56.39 feet and it's expected to crest at 56.5 feet Wednesday night. According to Poinsett County OEM Coordinator Frank Kraft, the water in Payneway is expected to recede sometime Wednesday; however, it will be a slow drain.

"We've got help from all over the place. We've got folks from the jail. We've got people here in the community. People from Jonesboro, people from Marked Tree, Trumann, the sheriff is even down there working, so we've got everybody and their brother helping out right now," said Glen Hurst, Pastor of Corners Chapel Baptist Church in Payneway. "We got two or three farmers, some retired construction workers, just one thing after the other, but everybody is pitching in."

Kraft said a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis told him the water will recede slowly, and it could be out of the county in two weeks. He said he's concerned about the safety of residents in flooded areas.

Residents said this year's flood is worse than it was in 1973, when several homes were hit.

"People have got water in their houses they did not have in 73," said Hurst. "We're just prepared for the long haul. We're going to have water here for a long time."

Tuesday night, residents in Payneway plead for help. Anyone wanting to assist in filling and placing sandbags around homes and other structures is urged to report to the Corners Chapel Baptist Church, just off Highway 63.

"They're (sandbags) for anybody that wants them. If somebody comes and says we want some sandbags, we'll load up a trailer and send them their way," said Hurst. "The water has risen probably a foot since this time yesterday (Monday), and we're sandbagging Liberty Baptist Church and then we're going to put a pump inside the sandbags to try to keep it out of the building."

As some residents continue to fight the flood, other people who have already lost are helping as well. Grissom, who is from Harrisburg, said his mother's home already flooded, but he wanted to help other people save their belongings.

"It's backing up and backing all into yards, all in the houses," said Grissom.

Monday, residents said they filled nearly 2,000 sandbags. Tuesday they lost count.

"We're down on our parking lot doing sandbags, and we've gone through 8 or 9 truckloads of sand already and we're going to do four of five more," said Hurst.

The Trumann, Marked Tree, Harrisburg Fire Departments and several other agencies have assisted residents in the flood fighting operation in the last two days.

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