JACKSONPORT, AR (KAIT) – When the river levels rise inJackson County, the towns there consider closing the flood gates on the leveesto hopefully prevent any damage.
The community of Jacksonport, however, will soon haveanother way to help its residents stay dry.
Mayor Marcus Dodson says the town has gotten a grant to buyand then build a new storm water pump station near one of its flood gates.Several surrounding communities are now chipping in, too, to make sure the pumpstays running for years to come.
The flood gate in question is usually the first to closewhen the White River starts to rise, but once it's shut, Dodson says there'snowhere for all the storm water to go but into the farm fields and homesnearby.
"When the river's up and the flood gates close and it startsraining and keeps raining, that's when you need the pump," he said. "Sometimes[the water] gets pretty close to getting over the road, too, if you don't pumpit out of there."
When the water has built up in the past, Dodson says he andsome of his neighbors have had to set up pumps on the levee. They have evencalled in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide additional support.
"It's always been a big headache to get that water out ofthere," he said, "because you've got to set up pumps on the levee and put thepipes across the levee."
He says building a permanent storm water pump station nearJacksonport has always been one of his main goals, but the town could neversecure the grant money to do so.
"We got turned down a couple of times," Dodson said, "andthen the grant finally came through."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Jacksonport agrant in 2012 worth more than $341,000 to build a new pump station. The mayor,however, says he worried the town could not have paid for the continuedmaintenance and upkeep once the pump was built.
Several communities as well as the county have now steppedin to help cover those costs. Jackson County, Newport, Diaz and CampbellStation plan to contribute $100 each month to a fund that will allowJacksonport to keep its pump operations afloat.
"I just want to thank them, appreciate them because wecouldn't do it ourselves," Dodson said, adding: "We couldn't afford it, notthis little town. We don't get that much revenue."
The other communities have also decided to help support thenew pump station because they will get some relief themselves when the watersrise.
Mayor Dodson expects the project to begin this fall, but he'sstill unsure of a completion date at this time.