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Union County sees record rain

Posted on April 9, 2019

Flooding on area roads causes minor repairs

By Michael Shine
Staff Writer

Union County received record rainfall over the weekend with multiple flash flood warnings. But as the rain cleared, cleanup and minor repairs begin.

Union County Judge Mike Loftin said about a dozen roads around the county had to be closed over the weekend due to flooding and several received damage.

Loftin said he spent Sunday driving around the county, checking on roads and flooding levels. He said there wasn’t any area in the county that was hit especially hard. Rather, the flooding was countywide. He said one gravel road was completely washed in two and two culverts were washed out.

“We got a little bit of work ahead of us,” he said. “We’re working on the Myrtle Grove Road, we got a culvert washed out on it. It’s a black top road. We’ve got a crew out there. We cut the road in two, part of it was washed out already, but we cut it in two and replaced that culvert. But it’ll be patched back up and open (Monday) afternoon.”

Loftin said if a road does flood, there isn’t much to do besides play the waiting game for the water to go down naturally. He said all of the roads that had been closed would be passable again by the end of Monday, even if they aren’t completely done with repairs.

Felsenthal, which sits near the Ouachita River, has a history of flooding. However, Felsenthal Mayor Linda Newbury said the town was OK after the rainfall. She said the water level has been falling over the past couple weeks, which kept Dollar Junction Road – one of the two main ways out of town – clear.

She said those areas could still flood because the town does get runoff from other areas, but it would take “quite a bit more water” than the town received over the weekend.

“Other than minor inconveniences, we’re doing pretty good,” Newbury said. “I saw some of the pictures from around El Dorado and we didn’t have anything like that. Yards and ditches got rained pretty well, we did get a little bit of a rise, but now they’re predicting a fall.”

Newbury said as long as there isn’t another heavy set of rain, the town shouldn’t get shut in.

Besides some low chances of rains over the week – mostly on Thursday and over the weekend – Union County isn’t expected to get very many more inches for a while.

Both Saturday and Sunday saw record levels of rainfall, said Lisa May, a hydrometeorological technician at the Shreveport, Louisiana, office of the National Weather Service. Saturday saw approximately 3.14 inches of rain and Sunday saw 5.54 inches, according to the meter at the South Arkansas Regional Airport.

May said the storms over the weekend were slow moving, which is part of what contributed to the rain levels.

“We’re in our spring cycle of those storms that will hit with the rain. I don’t know that I would call (this level of rain) normal, but we just had two days of systems that were just draining over the area,” May said. “Slow moving, they were just dumping that rain while they were doing so. (It was) really pretty isolated to just that southwest area of Arkansas.”

Loftin said there isn’t much to do to prepare for heavy rain. His office knows which roads are prone to flooding, he said, and will check on those roads first when there’s a heavy rainfall.

One of the important things, Loftin said, when there is flooding in the county, is for residents not to drive through the patches of flooded road.

“If you see the flooding, if you see water over the road, don’t go through it,” Loftin said. “We don’t know what’s under there. We don’t know if it’s washed out, if there’s a culvert washed out under that water. Nobody can see it. It’s pretty dangerous because of the unknowns.”

Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.