New breach in Pocahontas Levee; more areas flooded
POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT & AP) - There are now two breaks in the levee along the Black River near Pocahontas.
According to Pocahontas Fire Chief Scott Baltz, a 50-75 foot breach in breach the levee has broken on Highway 304. That expanded the local flooding and resulted in the closure of U.S. 67 toward Walnut Ridge from the Black River Bridge to Hwy 90.
The Randolph County Jail had to evacuate prisoners as the flood water began to swell around the jail. Randolph County Sheriff Gary Tribble says two original Greene County Jail prisoners were taken back to Greene County, 7 prisoners were taken to the Arkansas Department of Corrections, and 18 were taken to the Craighead County Jail. Sheriff Tribble also says the Arkansas State Police are bringing in a mobile command center to run the Randolph County 911 Dispatch Center since the flood water is forcing the original dispatch center to evacuate.
"The situation has gotten drastically worse. We had a levee over in the Robil Addition that has breeched," said Baltz.
Lawrence County Fire Department members and Lawrence County Sheriff Jodi Dotson flew over the floodwater and levee breeches to see how their county could be affected once the water reaches them Sheriff Dotson says no evacuations are currently in place for his county, but some residents are packing up and leaving their homes voluntarily.
"Most of them left but we did have to go back in around midnight and get eight or ten out," said Baltz.
The National Weather Service Issued a Flash Flood Warning until 1:15am Thursday morning for residents in eastern and southern Pocahontas, College City, O'Kean, and Portia.
The levee failure sends water southward. Do not drive into areas where water covers the roadway. It only takes a few inches of fast moving water to push a vehicle off the roadway.
Currently, the Black River is at a near record 27.8 feet and is not expected to crest until Saturday at 28.5 feet. The current record was set in 1915. U.S. Highway 67 is closed between Pocahontas and Corning, and Highway 67 running through Pocahontas is closed to the public. Emergency personnel will still be able to travel it.
Gov. Mike Beebe spokesman Matt Decample says the state is preparing to address flooding problems for the coming weeks.
The Mississippi River is so high that river systems in Arkansas can't adequately drain. Flood problems are occurring in the state's east from the Missouri border south to the Louisiana border.
Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.