Walnut Ridge hoping to combat flooding problems

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
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WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (KAIT) - With heavy rains recently in the forecast, one Lawrence County city is hoping to combat areas that could be dangerous in times of flooding.

Flooding is a topic known all too well to the citizens of Walnut Ridge.

“What we’re trying to do is eventually be able to get some of the neighborhoods flowing into larger ditches along the trail faster,” said Mayor Charles Snapp.

He explained the city is committed to helping with the flood issues in town, but it could be a slow process.

That process begins near the Rail Trail at Village Creek, where most problems start.

“We made this a foot lower in this area down here to where it will hold more water as a retention pond and will allow us an area to store the water when heavy rain comes down so fast,” said Street Supervisor Joe Sharum.

Sharum explained deepening the ditches helps the area hold more water, keeping it away from businesses and homes.

The mayor said the slow process is due to ensuring water flows correctly when flooding occurs and does not cause more issues than before.

“We have to start on the low end closest to the creek to make sure we’re not moving the water too fast to where we hurt some of the businesses or the houses that are closest to the creek itself,” he said.

Ashlock Tire is a business located near Village Creek and is a common victim of flooding when the creeks rise.

Owner Toby Spradlin said even this year, he has had water inside his building.

“We had 12 and a half inches inside our showroom. 14 inches in our shop and 17 inches in our back warehouse. That’s the worst it’s ever been,” he said.

Though with the recent work the city has done, heavy rains on Friday, March 24 were not an issue for the business.

“It’s a major inconvenience for us when we flood here. We don’t shut down for anything. We try to work through it. There’s a lot of issues involved when we have to clean out the mold, redo, and rebuild some things,” he said.

Spradlin explained he’s grateful for the city’s work to keep the water out of his shop.

Mayor Snapp said deepening the ditches around Village Creek isn’t the only plan he has to change the floodplain.

Citizens can help the city with flooding problems if they have low-lying land that could retain water.

“We hope to get something worked out where if a person has some low-lying land that’s in the floodway or flood zone, they can deed it to the city and possibly get a tax deduction,” Mayor Snapp said.

The city’s work will be tested as additional rainfall is expected over the next week.