Roads were closed and a shelter for displaced victims was open on Monday as city, county and state officials prepared for the flooding to increase as the Arkansas River is expected to reach record levels throughout the state this week and possibly into next week.
"This could be the worst disaster this county has ever seen," Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker said on Monday.
County Road Foreman Mark Ledbetter said Easterwood Point to Red Oak Drive, Sandy Gap and Faulkner Meadows Road were “under water” as Monday afternoon and closed. Grassy Lake and Shaw Bridge roads were also closed.
The Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday that it was “anticipated that Lollie [Bottoms] will be under [water] to Flag Pond by 6 p.m. Monday.”
Mayor Bart Castleberry said the river could be higher than the Lollie Levee.
"If the floodwater numbers projected along the Arkansas River hold, then water could possibly top the Lollie Levee," he said. "This will likely affect areas in Conway, including areas along Tucker Creek and its tributaries. Recent rainfall and our inability to drain storm water into the Arkansas River and Lake Conway will put stress on Conway's stormwater drainage system. This could contribute to a secondary flooding issue along creeks, tributaries, and drainage ditches."
He advised everyone to register for Code Red alerts through the Office of Emergency Management website at https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/EC5F9AD25742. Sandbags are available at the Conway Transportation Department, 100 E. Robins St, and the Beaverfork Volunteer Fire Department, No. 2 Beaverfork Road.
"All city departments have been preparing for this event for the past several days," Castleberry said. "We’ll continue working until the flooding threat passes."
On Friday, Baker requested help for the county and an emergency shelter was opened at the Don Owen Sports Complex at 10 Lower Ridge Road, where the American Red Cross is on hand with cots and other supplies.
“Pets will be housed in a separate facility close to the shelter,” Arkansas Department of Emergency Management officials said. “Residents in low lying areas are being encouraged to evacuate.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday declared Arkansas in a state of emergency and has been monitoring the situation.
After being briefed on the situation Sunday morning, the governor approved $100,000 in emergency funding to assist with support efforts.
“This morning, the Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and Arkansas State Police provided me with a detailed briefing about the state's ongoing support efforts in communities experiencing record flood levels along the Arkansas River," Gov. Hutchinson said on Sunday. "I have received a number of requests for aid from communities, and I immediately approved the release of $100,000 of emergency funds to support sandbagging work.
"I appreciate all the neighbors and volunteers filling sandbags and assisting with evacuations. The state team is continuing to respond to assistance requests, and more funds will be allocated as the situation demands.”
Conway is one of two cities with a Red Cross shelter during the flood; the other is in Fort Smith. Red Cross spokesman Christina Fowler said that as of Sunday, five people stayed in the Faulkner County shelter and 11 stayed in the Sebastian County shelter.
“Identification and/or proof of residency is not required to be admitted to a Red Cross shelter,” Fowler said. She said those seeking shelter were encouraged to bring the following items with them:
* Clothing for a few days.
* Essential medication.
* A child’s stuffed animal, blanket or other items for your children.
“We are in constant communication with local emergency management officials and have trained disaster response staff and volunteers ready to respond to support the community,” Julie Brown, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Chapter said.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said residences near the Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir have “an increased potential for flooding this week.”
“The greatest concern for flooding may begin as early as May 29 and continue until the Arkansas River recedes below Major Flood elevation in Pool 7,” AGFC spokesman Randy Zellers said Monday. “According to the latest predictions from the National Weather Service, the Arkansas River is expected to crest at 285.5 feet (mean sea level) at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam June 2.
“This far exceeds the 1990 flood elevation and is expected to cause historic flooding. The extremely high water of the river is expected to push water up Palarm Creek and back over the spillway at the Lake Conway dam.”
Zellers said that “an event of this circumstance and magnitude” has never happened on Lake Conway, making it “unclear exactly how this backflow from the Arkansas River will impact the water level of Lake Conway.”
“However, more than 4 inches of rain is predicted for portions of the Arkansas River Valley in eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas later this week,” Zellers said. “Current Arkansas River predictions do not take this additional rainfall into account. These rains are expected to keep the Arkansas River very high for an extended period of time, increasing the flood risk for Lake Conway.”
Questions related to Lake Conway’s water level should be directed to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Fisheries Office in Mayflower at 501-470-3309.
Anyone who wants to help the Red Cross with disaster relief can visit redress.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS.
People affected by the flood can list themselves as “as safe and well” at
“Family and friends may then search for the name of anyone they are trying to locate on this site,” Red Cross officials said.