January 22, 2007--Posted at 6:30 p.m. CST
HARDY, AR--Back in September, the rising waters of the Spring River claimed the life of Trumann resident Jackie Richardson.
Now the town of Hardy is pushing for an early warning flooding system to make sure everyone along the river has the time necessary to react to the rising waters.
The Spring River is a source of business and pleasure, but when the waters rise it can prove hazardous for those along its banks.
"I have seen it come up on July and September. So I go down there and warn people to get their campers and get out of there," said Jeff Klein.
Jeff Klein owns Three Rivers Outfitters in Hardy. In addition to canoe rentals, he also manages a camp ground and cabins along the river. He believes an advanced warning system makes sense.
"I suppose it would give us a better opportunity to protect our people our customers, make sure they weren't just taking our word for it. They knew it was a real threat," said Klein.
The system involves installing a measuring station on each of the three rivers that feed into the Spring River. If the conditions on those rivers show signs of flooding, a warning is issued. Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton feels it is necessary because the old system is outdated.
"Well we have our eyes and ears. We have people that watch the river whenever it is going to rain a lot," said Thornton.
Currently the city only has 20 to 30 minutes to evacuate low lying areas. However, under the proposed system conditions would be monitored upstream giving two to three hours time to move everyone to higher ground.
"I know of a particular resident that knew the water was coming up. They went to get some of their things together and in a 20 minute period before they could get back in their vehicle the water had come up and flooded their vehicle," said Klein.
Following the tragedy in September, the city feels this is something it has to do.
"Had we had a little more warning, I absolutely don't think we would have had any loss of life," said Thornton.
The system costs $100,000 up front and $20,000 a year for maintenance. The city feels it's a small price to pay for piece of mind.
"$100,000 is a lot of money, but how much is one life? How much is that worth? $100,000 doesn't touch it," said Thornton.
February 5th, Hardy will host a town meeting to discuss the early warning system.