CRAWFORD COUNTY (KFSM) — A section of a levee in Crawford County slipped downward into the bottoms surrounding it, but efforts to reinforce the weak section have been effective.
That's the word from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Crawford County Sheriff's Office. The update on the levee was given during a daily news conference by state, local and federal officials on the flood emergency taking place along the Arkansas River.
Col. Bob Dixon with the Little Rock District of the Corps said the river was in a "prolonged crest" after heavy rains on Wednesday, but it was expected to crest Friday (May 31) at 40.5 feet.
Dixon said the levees in Sebastian County is "performing as designed" and didn't have any issues. However, a weak area was discovered on the Crawford County levee.
Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown said a section at the Yoestown Bottoms near Kibler about 80 feet wide and 12 feet tall has "slid." It was reported about mid-morning Tuesday.
By late Tuesday evening with the help of the Air National Guard and others, they were able to bring in material and personnel to help shore up the levee. The plan was to get the material in place before storms came in Wednesday, bringing heavy rain.
"We were able to get quite a bit of the material in," Brown said. "We weren't able to meet our goal, but we were able to get quite a bit of it in."
They returned after the storms to put more material on to shore up the levee. Since then, crews have been physically checking the levee every hour.
"As of 9 o'clock this morning, which is the last report I got, everything is still intact and it's still holding its own," Brown said.
Brown said they weren't able to get vehicles onto the levee because it was deemed unsafe, and there was no escape route for workers should anything happen, so the material had to be air dropped and workers had to utilize all-terrain vehicles instead of trucks.
Brown said should the levee breach, about 152 structures would be affected. Brown said they have models for everyone one affected immediately to 6 hours out to even 96 hours out, which would be about how long it would take to reach Van Buren, according to the models. They've gone door-to-door to contact those who might be affected.
"We have about 253 names in this database where we can do a mass notification through Alert Express," a reverse-911 alert system, Brown said.
Brown said county and state officials have had rescue teams in place since Saturday, in case they're needed.