ARKANSAS RIVER (KFSM) — Several parks and recreational areas along the Arkansas River remain closed as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to repair severe flood damage.
Several parks along the Arkansas River sustained major damage during the spring floods and remain closed, Corps officials said. One of those is the Clear Creek Public Use Area outside Yoestown in Crawford County.
Clear Creek is available for day use, such as picnicking or fishing. But its campgrounds were damaged and remain closed, said Jay Townsend, chief of Public Affairs for the Corps’ Little Rock District.
Tar Camp Park near Redfield is also restricted to day use as its campgrounds remain closed. Old Post Park near Russellville and Notrebes Bend southwest of Helena-West Helena are partially opened.
Other areas, however, were significantly damaged and remained closed. One of those is Riverview Park near Dardanelle. Others include Sheppard Island and Rising Star near Pine Bluff, Cherokee Park near Morrilton and Toad Suck Park near Conway.
The Corps is currently waiting for funding to make the major repairs, but in the meantime, they’re using their normal maintenance funds to repair what they can, Townsend said.
Images released by the Corps show roads reduced to rubble and partially washed away, concrete picnic tables mangled and crumbled and an entire bathroom building floating in a sinkhole.
But Townsend said it’s more than just what’s visible in the photographs.
“It’s what you can’t see,” Townsend said. “All of the electrical was destroyed, all of the plumbing. The RV hookups were all washed away. Septic systems were destroyed,” Townsend said. “And when you see a bathroom floating off its foundation, well, you have to build another bathroom,” he said, referring to a bathroom at Sheppard Island Public Use Area off U.S. 79 east of Pine Bluff.
Townsend said that in situations like this, supplemental funding eventually becomes available to assist in repairs. But the Corps has had no word so far when, or even if, that funding will be made available to repair the parks and recreational areas.
“If the funding doesn’t come through, then we’ll just use our regular maintenance budget to just chip away at these repairs as much as we can,” Townsend said.
He said if that happens, it could be years before all the camps are fully repaired and back open. Even with the funding, the amount of repairs needed will take time.
“We’re looking at next season before some of these parks can be reopened, and in some cases, beyond next season,” he said.