While one roadway has reopened, others have closed as Lake Conway's waters continue rising during the historic 2019 Arkansas River flood.
The Faulkner County Office of Emergency Management announced around 4 p.m. Wednesday that Highway 64 at the Cadron Creek bridge had reopened. However, officials also closed another portion of Highway 89 in Mayflower.
As waters seeped over the highway between Lake Forest and Shoreline drives Wednesday afternoon, local officials were forced to close a little more than one-quarter-mile of Highway 89 South. The affected area is located just off Lake Conway.
Residents along Lake Conway are warned to stay alert of rising waters in the area. While the Arkansas River has crested at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam, those living along the lake are still feeling the effects of the flooding event as Lake Conway continues rising with waters from Palarm Creek moving in.
Current forecasts indicate the lake likely will rise 5 feet above normal pool by Friday.
"Lake Conway has exceeded the flood stage of 266 feet mean sea level, and is still rising," Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesman Keith Stephens said, adding that those in the area who have experience flooding in the past 10 years should prepare themselves.
"Those living in close proximity to Lake Conway should take immediate action to protect themselves and property from flood damage," he said.
As rainfall heads into the county in the coming days, officials believe the Lake Conway area may be "drastically" affected because they are unable to drain runoff due to the flooding downstream.
Since residents and other volunteers began prepping for the Arkansas River flood's impact in Faulkner County, they have worked to fill more than 200,000 sandbags.
Sandbag fortresses have protected many homes, while efforts at others were not enough.
Two homes near Jerrell Road along Highway 89 were completely surrounded by water Wednesday afternoon. An Arkansas National Guard soldier said the homeowners did their best to sandbag and protect their home, but the waters ultimately rose too quickly and they were forced to evacuate.
However, some homes, such as the Hargetts' residence on Stanford Road in the Treasure Hills subdivision off Highway 65, have held strong through the flooding event. Trina and her husband Bryan Hargett moved into their Treasure Hills home three weeks ago.
The newlyweds did their best to hold off on collecting sandbags so that their neighbors who had lived in the area could save their homes. Once all other homes at the end of the street became flooded, the Hargetts quickly got to work. Several volunteers helped to build a sandbag perimeter around the Hargetts' home. The efforts began May 30, and Trina told the Log Cabin on Tuesday that her home was still dry thanks to the help her family received from the community.
Elizabeth Esau, who lives along Lake Conway, told the Log Cabin on Wednesday that while her backyard was steadily filling with water, her home was still OK. When she and her family learned of the possibility that the Lake Conway area would begin experience flooding issues as well, they stocked up groceries in the event waters blocked them in. For now, everything looks like it will be fine in her area, she said.
The American Red Cross began providing disaster relief for those affected by the Arkansas River flood last week.
Officials said that as flood waters recede in some areas, the needs for relief continue to grow in others.
"As river levels fall and residents affected by the flooding begin the process of returning home, we will continue to be here for our local communities," Greater Arkansas Chapter Executive Director Lori Arnold said. "The Red Cross will continue to work with partners and do everything we can to connect people with the resources they need for recovery."
While four Red Cross-operated shelters remain open, the shelter at the Dardanelle Community Center is set to close Thursday.
Shelters that remain open are located at the Evangel Temple in Fort Smith, the Don Owen Sports Center in Conway, the North Little Rock Community Center in North Little Rock and the Southeast Arkansas College-Seabrook in Pine Bluff.
There are also Red Cross-supported shelters available at the Dyer Community Building in Dyer, the Swan Lake Fire Station in Altheimer and at the Wright/Pastoria Community Center in Wright. An independent shelter is also available to those in need at the First Baptist Church in Lavaca.
Those who seek shelter via the Red Cross are asked to bring with them clothing, bedding, toiletries, medications and children’s toys. Meals are served three times a day to those in need at the shelters.
On Tuesday, 150 Arkansans sought shelter with the Red Cross because of flooding.
Those wishing to make a $10 donation during the historic flooding event can text REDCROSS to 90999. Those wishing to volunteer with the Red Cross can contact organizers at www.redcross.org.
There is also an emergency animal shelter near the Red cross shelter. This is the first time a shelter has been established for animals in the county. The emergency shelter is headed by the Faulkner County Animal Response Team and stationed at the Faulkner County Rodeo Arena at 10 Lower Ridge Road in Conway.
More than 20 roadways across the county have closed either due to high waters or as a safety measure to keep traffic out of the area while emergency personnel monitor flood levels. Current road closures include:
Caney Lane in the Cadron Township.
Interstate Drive near Grassy Lake Road in Mayflower.
Springfield Road in Wooster.
Highway 89 from Jerrell Lane to Easterwood Point Road.
Highway 365 at the Pulaski/Faulkner county line.
Highway 89 from the Mayflower Cemetery near Capps Road to Dawn Drive.
Lollie Road from Donnel Ridge Road to Easterwood Point Road.
Winter Creek Drive in Mayflower.
Christy Lane in Mayflower.
Charlotte Drive in Mayflower.
Hensley Lane in Holland.
Burgess Lane in Wooster.
Bayou Road in Holland.
Highway 25 from West Cadron Ridge Road to Beaverfork Road.
Highway 25 near Patton Mini Storage.
Glover Road in the Hardin Township.
Highway 60 at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam.
Woodward Road in Mayflower.
Luker Lane in Mayflower.
Jones Lane in Mayflower.
Easterwood Point Road.
James Road off Highway 65.
Grassy Lake Road in the Danley Township.
Shawbridge Road in Wooster.
Red Oak Drive in Mayflower.
Sandy Gap Road in the Benedict Township.
Faulkner Meadows Road in Mayflower.
The city of Conway has RV plots available at the Conway Expo and Event Center for those who need a place to stay in their RVs during the flooding incident.
City officials said electricity and water will be provided at the center at no cost.
To reserve a spot, call 501-327-2532 or send an email to either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lollie Levee remains under constant surveillance through this flooding event.
While a portion of the levee began eroding Tuesday morning, Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry said he and other officials believe the situation is under control.
"The river has crested and we’re starting to see a slight decrease in the level. However, it will be a very slow process," he said Wednesday afternoon. "I will tell you that at this time yesterday, we had a real concern about an area that was eroding along the banks here."
The Conway Fire Department, Faulkner County Road Department, Corps of Engineers, Conway Street Department and National Guard quickly got to work and filled the affected area with massive sandbags.
"I will tell you, we’re not out of the woods with the levee, but our confidence is better after [Wednesday] after all the work that was done," Castleberry said. "Hopefully, things will work out on that end."
With help from the National Guard, which has supplied two Black Hawks for Faulkner County during the Arkansas River flood, 160 sandbags were airlifted and dropped into the affected Lollie Levee area. The sandbags weighed 1,000 pounds each.