State Officials Survey Flood Damage in Benton County


A representative from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) in Little Rock arrives in Benton County Monday (April 22) to survey the flood damage.

Tim Gehring, ADEM coordinator for Northwest Arkansas, said the heavy rain washed away roads and bridges in the county.

“It’s really high water velocity up here,” Gehring said. “It just doesn’t seep in, it’s flowing down hill and it’s really taken out a lot of infrastructure.”

Gehring drove around the roads taking GPS coordinates, measuring the roads and taking pictures of the aftermath alongside a Gravette road department official and Robert McGowen with the Benton County Department of Emergency Management.

“The estimate of the county is around $600,000 so we have to qualify that and make sure it’s here,” Gehring said. “We are going to every city and running each site and doing estimates.”

In the meantime, Benton County road crews work overtime to fix roads and bridges damaged in last Thursday’s heavy rain.

Jobey Howard is just one of the dozens of people affected by the flooding. He was able to get out of his home on Thursday, but his neighbor wasn’t so lucky.

“I got one neighbor passed me that lives between two creek crossings and he’s the one that’s been trapped in there for several days,” Howard said.

Road department superintendent Jack Brown said they are making improvements to avoid flooding in the future.

“We’re moving some box culverts out and building a bridge in one area so we are doing some upgrades with this,” Brown said.

If the county has $450,000 in damages or more, the state will reimburse 35 percent.

“A lot of states don’t even have that,” Gehring said. “In Arkansas we are lucky we have a 35%, so we’ll give a 35% of the damage to the area.”

Gehring said he will compile his information along with the county estimates to see if Benton county meets the required threshold for state assistance.

Gehring is expected to head back to Little Rock by mid-week.

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