by Max Brantley
Rising rivers continue to create mounting problems in Arkansas.
The Highway and Transportation Department today said closure of both directions of Interstate 40 at Mile Marker 202 was "imminent" because of flood waters from the White River. Details were being discussed at a news conference at 3 p.m.
With closure, the plan was to detour westbound traffic at Brinkley on Highway 49 north to Fair Oaks, then Highway 64 west to Bald Knob and then Highway 67 south to Little Rock. Eastbound traffic was to be diverted at Hazen to Highway 63 to Stuttgart, Highway 165 to DeWitt, Highway 1 to Marvell and then routes to either Brinkley, Forrest city or Helena.
The Trucker, which posted the planned detours, noted these were 100-mile detours that involved miles of two-lane roads for a major east-west trucking bridge route. It is going to be a mess out there.
UPDATE: At 4:20 p.m. both westbound lanes were closed, but eastbound lanes remained open. But that wasn't expected to last long.
Meanwhile, comes word from Southeast Arkansas of growing concern about the rising Mississippi River.
On the jump, the Facebook page of a Lake Village area farmer provides a summary of the Chicot County judge's report on the situation.
Chicot County Judge Mack Ball reports that a flood warning for the Miss River remains if effect for Chicot County. The flood stage is 48 ft with moderate flooding. As of Monday 5/2, 4pm, the river stage at 53.2ft. The river will continue to rise to near 64.5 ft by Sunday May 15th..exceeding the flood of 08 by 7.1ft.
The County Judge met with Eudora Mayo Wm Stanton and Lake Village Mayor JoAnne Bush in his office Monday pm to brief the Mayors of rising waters from the Miss. River. Also in attendance: Mike Morgan, Chicot County Emergeny Management, Tony Booker, Chicot County Sheriff's office, David Gillison of SE ARK Levee Board and Sammy Angel with the Lake Village Fire Department.
Judge Ball issued a flood disaster request to the Ark Dept of Emergency Mgt on 4/27/11 in order to obtain necessary supplies to prevent a breach in the Miss River levee System. Barricades have been placed at all entrances to the levee system and driving on the levee is strictly prohibited and will be enforced. Sandbags are being filled by prisoners at the Delta Regiona Detention Center in Dermott to be used at the sand boil sites in Chicot County. Authorities are constantly monitoring these two particular sites, but citizens are encouraged to contact the Judge's office with any information concerning other suspected boils.
The U.S Army Corps of Engineers has personnel in place to monitor the levee system and all known historical sand boils in Chicot County. Also, the SE Ark Levee Board is constantly monitoring for sand boils and river seepage caused by the high water.
As of May 2, 2011, no vehicles will be permitted to travel on the levee. The Chicot County Sheriff's Dpt, AGF, ADEm, and ANG will be authorized to issue tickets accordingly. This "zero tolerance' policy is in place to protect both citizens and property in Chicot County. It is each resident's responsibility to follow the laws and instructions from all govt agencies.
All major decisions by the Corps of Engineers or any other state or federal agency will be reported to the ADEM and the Chicot County Judge. The County Judge will notify the Mayors of each city in Chicot County. The steps will then be in place to inform you as citizens.
If a breach of the levee does occur, officials have developed a system of getting the word to you as a citizen by utilizing fire deparments, law enforcement and the ANG. The authorities are simply asking for you to use all precautions and report any unusual developments.
In the event conditions warrant an evacuation all available personnell will notify the citizens of Chicot County. It is at this point that evacuation will be mandatory and your cooperation will be necessary in order to protect both life and and property in Chicot County.
At this time only precautionary measures have been issued from each of these entities. Please know that all authorities are working together for your protection. All state and national agencies are on alert for any additional changes in the current condition of the Miss. River.