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Flood fears: evacuations in Arkansas’ Jackson, Prairie counties

White River threatens to cut off parts of Des Arc, Biscoe, Ark. Shelters set up for Prairie County, Ark., evacuees. Evacuations ordered in parts of Jackson County, Ark.

Evacuation notices have been issued in Arkansas’ Jackson and Prairie counties as the White River continues to rise.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service at Little Rock extended its flood warnings through 5 p.m. Monday. A flash flood watch was in effect until Tuesday morning for much of the state.

Monday morning, the Prairie County judge issued a notice asking residents in flood-prone areas east of the White at Des Arc and Biscoe to evacuate. “Roads in the area will soon be impassable due to flooding,” the notice said.

In Jackson County, a mandatory evacuation was issued for parts of west-central Jackson County, said Randy Chlapecka, Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

“The White River is now forecast to crest at an all-time high of 36 feet Wednesday night at Newport,” he said. “The previous record high was 35.9 feet on April 17, 1945.

“The Black and Cache, along with other streams, are all out as well. A lot of people have suffered damage to their homes and other structures due to floodwater.”

Prairie County residents are also battling the White River.

“Roads at Des Arc, Highway 38/33 were being closed at White River bridge due to water overtopping,” said Brent Griffin, Prairie County Extension staff chair. “Highway 33 south of the Highway 38 junction was closed due to water over the road.”

On Arkansas Highway 11 north of Des Arc, “water is up to edge or lacks only a foot from going over, and will likely be covered by the morning,” Griffin said. “Highway 11-38 coming into Des Arc from the west will likely be covered, later tomorrow. This will literally cut off the town.”

Shelters have been opened at Des Arc area churches, the Hazen Armory, and old DeValls Bluff auditorium.

“Folks are sand bagging where houses are located on lower portions of town protected by levee and pumping water off,” Griffin said, adding that the river may hit 37 feet Thursday or Friday, a measurement that would beat the record set in 1949.

Independence County Extension staff chair Stan Carter said “most of our row crops are along the White and Black rivers, so a lot of corn and wheat is underwater.”

Last week, high waters forced some to evacuate from Oil Trough and others to take precautions including moving furnishings to higher ground, Carter said.

In Randolph County, where the Black River has inundated Pocahontas, “we are still receiving rain at this point and are expecting rivers to all come back up due to weekend and today’s rain,” said Mike Andrews, county Extension staff chair. “The Eleven Point River has already come back over Highway 90.

“It is still way too early to try and figure out anything about row crops,” he said, adding there is one bright spot. “I have been able to get to a few locations and see some fields that have not been underwater -- very few -- and corn is surviving in those few fields.”

Andrews said he had heard more reports of miles of fence being torn out by flooding and cattle being struck by lightning.

For more information on crop production, contact your county Extension office or visit

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