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Levee upgrades to protect thousands of acres along White River

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 10:15 PM CDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Jackson County is no stranger to flooding, and now the county is bolstering its protection against the White River.

In 2019, a voluntary evacuation was put in place for those close to the White River when rising waters caused the levee to fail.

“A lot of them, it wasn’t something they could control,” said Matthew Davis, the staff chair at the Jackson County Extension Office. “So they just knew if it happened it happened. They just had to make that adjustment. For them I think they were praying daily that it wouldn’t happen.”

Arkansas National Guard helicopters were called in to support the failing levee, and thankfully for those in the area - a large breach and flood never happened.

But county officials don’t want to have another close call.

So when the river receded enough earlier this year, work finally began rebuilding and fortifying the levee.

“They’re still not finished,” said Jeff Phillips, the Jackson County Judge. “We still have sandbags, those big sandbags to put in and line the River side of the levee in case that the River does get back up again. Then those will help protect it.”

Judge Phillips says crews will have to keep sandbagging as a precaution until they can add vegetation to the ground around the levee and inside the reservoir.

That vegetation will help soak up any overflowing water.

The extension office says that around 30,000 to 40,000 acres of land are vulnerable to a potential White River flood.

This levee upgrade should give the area similar protections compared to those around the county.

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