Ark. Gov.: Agricultural Damage Heavy After Persistent Flooding

April 16, 2008

Arkansas’ emergency management chief says rising flood waters may undo the cleanup and repairs some homes and regions have already completed after more than a month of flooding.

“Some areas we’ve surveyed we’ll have to go back and redo because damages that have been repaired have been done all over again,” David Maxwell, director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said. “There’s more than likely individuals who have cleaned up who will see their homes flood again or have already flooded again.”

Gov. Mike Beebe and emergency management officials toured Clarendon and other parts of Monroe County that expect further flooding this week from rising waters.

Beebe said his office doesn’t have a firm estimate yet on damage from the flooding, but said it’s already been severe for many farmers in the region.

“The longer this stays, the harder it’ll be to put in a crop,” Beebe said. “You’ve got all kinds of additional damage when you get into row-crop country, along with what you’ve already got to residences.”

The National Weather Service says flood waters are making their way out of the state, though the lower White River is not forecast to crest until later in the week at Georgetown, Des Arc and Clarendon.

Levels in most rivers were falling.

“It is definitely on the way out,” National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Goudsward said.

Access to homes along Maddox Bay in Lawrenceville has been cut off by about a foot of water covering Arkansas 146. Between 3 and 4 feet of water covers wheat crops surrounding homes in the area.

Randy Everett, who owns a crop dusting company, said his home has not been damaged by the flooding, but said the water has hurt his business by limiting what crops can be planted.

“They’re not getting rice planted because it’s all underwater right now. That’s where a lot of my business is coming from,” Everett said.

Donnie Wilkinson, a farmer who lives in Lawrenceville, has been able to drive in and out of Lawrenceville with his pickup truck. But Wilkinson said the additional 2 feet of water expected to cover the highway means he’ll probably have to find a boat or some other way to get to his home.

Ronnie and Lynn Smart, who moved to Lawrenceville in February, said they’re staying in their home because they don’t expect flooding there. The Smarts said many of their neighbors have already left the city and are waiting for the flood waters to recede.

“We’ve been OK, but our neighbors haven’t been doing as well,” Lynn Smart said. “We’re an island right now.”

Monroe County Judge Larry Morris said his county’s roads have already experienced millions of dollars of damage. Morris predicted extensive damage to farms in the region.

“We’ve got a lot of farmers that have already lost their crops,” Morris said.

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