Does the City of Paragould Have Their Flooding Problem in the Past? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Paragould, AR -- Marsha Mays Reporting

Does the City of Paragould Have Their Flooding Problem in the Past?

JUNE 8, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:45 P.M. CDT  

PARAGOULD, AR -- The Francis Bland Floodway Ditch, or formerly known as the '8 Mile Creek' is a ditch that's caused years and years of problems in Paragould.

It all is believed to have started during the flood of 1973. The ditch continued to flood the city for decades and surprisingly it took over 20 years to create a plan to fix the problem. Finally, the work began in 1997.

"The first phase is called the rural reach, which was the south part. Highway 412 there at East Side Bridge and then it goes south into the county out towards Locust Creek, and then there was the urban reach which was through town," says Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill, who has been dealing with the process since he took office in 1997.

The last part of the project is supposed to be completed by September of this year. The 33 year old project, which cost a whopping 15 million dollars, is finally near completion. But the big question is can Paragould put their flood problems in the past?

"There's about a half-a-million dollars spent every year in Paragould for flood insurance and of course our goal is one to limit flooding. Is this going to be the cure all? We don't know if it's going to be the cure all, but we can already tell the difference in the community when we have those heavy rains. The next thing we want to do is to remove people from the flood plain. We can put that money back in their pockets," says Gaskill.

Mayor Gaskill says this was designed for a 100 year flood, meaning any major flood that could cause the ditch to overflow, only comes once in 100 years.

One Greene County resident says he is disappointed in the way the Army Corps of Engineers has constructed the ditch. He says he's measured it himself and it doesn't equal what they originally promised. Though Mayor Gaskill says the ditch was constructed with the right amount of depth to contain the water, one resident tells a different story.

"I measured part of it. It's a 28 foot bottom down there when it's supposed to be 50 foot and just above the bridge it measured 48 foot and when it's supposed to be 74," says Alton Slatton, a concerned resident of Greene County.

Regardless, the project is already near completion and as far as whether or not it will keep the city from flooding, that's something that time can only tell.

After the project is complete, F.E.M.A. will be asked to come in and rezone the flood plains, hopefully saving many Greene County residents major dollars.

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