Benton County Faces $5 Million In Flood Damages

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Recent heavy rains may have caused about $5 million in damages to property in Benton County, according to preliminary damage estimates from the county.

Once the assessment damage report is complete, it heads to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM). According to Robert McGowen, Benton County Emergency Management Director, ADEM representatives will make their own assessment. Then it goes to federal emergency officials at FEMA.

"If we get a federal disaster, FEMA will provide 75 percent reimbursement for the damages and we'll get 12.5 percent from the state," McGowen said. "So it will be a total of 87.5 percent in reimbursements."

To qualify for federal funds, there must be at least $4 million in damages state-wide.

"With our numbers we believe, just the county alone will exceed the $4 million and we know there are additional counties that have damages also," McGowen said.

McGowen said there isn't a set timeline on the approval process.

"It's a process we're waiting on others and we have no control over that," McGowen said.

Two roads and four bridges in Benton County remain closed after flooding that resulted from last week's rainfall. County emergency management officials have been assessing damage since Friday, the day after Benton County Judge Bob Clinard declared the county in a state of emergency.

Dianne Puryear has lived on Spanker Ridge Drive since 1990 and said the Spanker Road Bridge has been repaired or replaced at least five times.

"They do not understand that you got a six inch flow of water in a normal flow plane for that water and then if we get this massive rain it can jump anywhere from 20 to 30 feet," Puryear said.

Puryear said since the bridge is closed, it's been non-stop traffic through Spanker Ridge Drive.

"You have to make sure you time your time when you go to work or go to town or just even to try to get out of your driveway," Puryear said.

Virginia Warren has lived on Spanker Creek Road for about seven decades and said the flood caused property damage and destroyed a nearby road.

"Gooseberry Road was washed out really bad and one of the neighbors took his tractor fixed it so we can get through," Warren said.

Benton County officials activated their Emergency Operations Center on Friday (Aug. 9) morning to assess damage to public and private from Thursday morning’s heavy rains that flooded much of the area, according to county emergency officials.

The area got another 1-2 inches Friday morning. Calls starting coming into the center within minutes from residents reporting damage to their properties.

Portions of the county received between 7-10 inches of rainfall Thursday, causing widespread flash flooding and closing numerous roads, according to Benton County Emergency Management Director Robert McGowen.

Thursday’s emergency declaration allowed the possibility of additional support and possible reimbursement to the county and towns dealing with the flooding.

“If we get state or federal disaster and we are able to get individuals, individual assistance from the state or federal government, we want to be able to contact them and let them know what the process will be for them,” McGowen said at the time.

Assessment crews began on Spanker Road in Bella Vista where swift water pushed the asphalt and took out pieces of a bridge. The Corinth Road Bridge still remains completely washed out. Bridges on South Rainbow Road, Stage Coach Road and North Hog Farm Road are also still closed, according to Benton County Emergency Management.

The only roads in Benton County still closed include Bill Billings Road and North Old Wire Road from Gann Ridge Road north to the Arkansas-Missouri line.

Individuals affected by the floods are asked to call the Emergency Management Agency at 479-271-1004.

The county was still dealing with damage left severe weather the previous week before Thursday’s rainfall. The damage covered much of the county’s 1,400 miles-worth of roads. Highway 12 near Pollack Road in Rogers was one location where debris covered new culverts.

County Road Director Cindy Jones said road damage reports are flowing in to road workers daily.

“There was damage from one side to the other. So, Saturday morning, (Aug. 3) we were out bright and early. We had four motor graders, dump trucks, operators, supervisors, and we had roads that we needed to close down and clear the rocks and debris off of so people could get through,” Jones said.