Drainage district scrambling to make ditch, levee repairs during dry spell

Levee damaged in May 2011 flood.
Levee damaged in May 2011 flood.
TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) - Only one year ago, extensive flooding plagued much of Region 8, and Poinsett County was no exception.
Over the past few weeks, trackhoes have been shoveling through parched Poinsett County drainage ditches normally filled with water.

General Manager Wayne Hinds and the Drainage District #7 crew have been taking advantage of this dry weather to clear debris left over from the ice storm of 2009.

"Normally July and August I'll say are my best months, but this time it came early."

Last April, the Mississippi River rose to its highest level in a decade, and local ditches began backing up near Payneway and even reversing their flow.

"...Mississippi being high and the water coming down the floodway, and that's what caused all the backwater in Payneway."

Nearly 200 homes--located on the "dry" side of the levee--were damaged by 8-10 inches of floodwater.

"We catch everything from Cape Girardeau, those 5 big ditches from Kennett and Hayti. All that comes in over the Rivervale tunnel and come on down to the siphons."

Hinds says the job is never finished--maintaining 310 miles of ditches and 62 miles of levees.

In 45 years of experience, he has never seen a region go from a 100-year flood to such arid conditions in a span of one year.

"If July and August gets any drier than this, we will be hurting."

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