Historic flooding is projected for the state in the coming days as the Arkansas River overflows its banks. Flooding is not expected to affect Van Buren County directly, but areas of the state along the Arkansas River are preparing for what is projected to be “… the worst flooding in Arkansas history,” according to the U.S. National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service in Little Rock began late last week warning of flooding, with the flood crest beginning in Oklahoma on Monday, May 27, and continuing downstream through Fort Smith and Van Buren on Tuesday, proceeding on to Toad Suck, in Conway, by Sunday, June 2.
Water was forecast to reach 283 feet at Toad Suck through the weekend, and this was upgraded to 285 feet in Tuesday’s forecast. Road closings are being reported in Faulkner County as tributaries feeding the river begin to swell in advance of the expected flooding.
The weather service has also cautioned that heavy rain expected Tuesday night into Wednesday, May 27 and 28 will have further impact.
“If this doesn't amplify the flooding on the Arkansas River, it will at the very least prolong the flooding carrying significant impacts into the second week of June across the state along the Arkansas River,” the service stated in its May 27 report.
Governor Asa Hutchinson declared a state of emergency May 24 in advance of the expected flooding, and deployed National Guard Rescue Teams in preparation of the flooding. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) was placed on Level I “full activation” Saturday, May 25 in preparation for the flooding.
Current projections have Van Buren County outside the area impacted by flooding.
Van Buren County OEM head Jeana Williams said river and stream levels in the area are relatively low, with Archey Fork at 5 feet. She did add that Greers Ferry Lake is currently very high “with lots of debris.” The problem here, Williams said, is that the Army Corp of Engineers cannot release water from the lake quickly, or it would impact already-present downstream flooding risks.