Hurricane Harvey, while missing most of Arkansas, had an impact on Van Buren County.
Most telling of the impact was the crew sent from Van Buren County Rescue Squad to assist in rescue efforts. Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Jeana Williams stated her office received the initial call Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 29, requesting a crew to report to College Station, Texas. The crew left the following morning.
While enroute boat teams were diverted to Lumberton, Texas.Due to flooding, however, roads to Emberton were impassible and the team was forced to stop at Jasper, Texas. The next morning another effort was made to reach Lumberton, which required several reroutes as the team kept running into flooding, finally stopping in Vidor, Texas with several other teams.
Williams classified the scene as “chaotic,” pointing out this is typical in the early stage of large-scale disasters, with several call-outs for assistance.
Housing was such the team went back to Jasper that night. This, ultimately, worked out well as the church where they stayed was being “overwhelmed,” per William’s report, by donations and having trouble keeping it organized. The rescue teams, Van Buren County and Marion County, were able to pitch in and help organize - drawing on experience in organizing donations centers after the 2008 tornados in the county, the report stated. They then trained staff there on how to deal with donations and donation accounting.
With this task accomplished the team was on its way back to the county Saturday, Sept. 2.
The storm’s impact on Arkansas remains to be fully classified, however. The U of A Division of Agriculture detailed damage to crops in the Arkansas Delta, where they storm did reach. Delayed harvests and lower yields are expected, notably among rice and soybean. Worse, the wet weather and attendant stagnant water is expected to increase the mosquito population.