The Lollie Levee was still holding water as of Friday evening, but officials are concerned a breach is imminent.
"By the grace of God, it's still holding," County Judge Jim Baker told reporters Friday morning. "Everyone thought it would breach at midnight [Friday], but it's still holding."
Officials worked with the Corps of Engineers and the Arkansas National Guard as soon as it noticed a portion of the levee was beginning to suffer from erosion days ago.
"We've been fighting it for four days," Baker admitted. However, Conway Fire Chief Mike Winter said it seems all efforts to keep the levee from breaching have ultimately deteriorated.
"[This is a] very critical point where we look like we're going to see a breech in the levee," Winter said.
Because the water levels within the levee have receded some, officials do not believe residents within Conway city limits will be affected if the levee breeches.
Those who live in the Lollie Bottoms area will have about 15 hours to get out of the area before they're affected if the levee breeches, Baker said.
The city already has removed all aircraft from the Conway Municipal Airport as a precaution to the flooding, and other residents participated in the voluntary evacuation as well.
All farm animals have been moved out of the Lollie Bottoms area in preparation of a possible breech.
"Listen folks, we've had 18 days' notice," Baker said Friday. "For the last 18 days, people have prepared. [This is the] best cooperation I've ever seen of people trying to protect their assets."
Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry said he is confident the city "is not going to have a significant impact from this," but that he wants area residents to be prepared.
"It does appear a breech is imminent sometime in the near future," he said.
To help combat other flooding that could be associated with heavy rains and a possible breech, city officials began work Friday to set up a dam along Tucker Creek at Donnell Ridge.
The dam will help to protect those living along the creek, Castleberry said.
Judge Baker said he was amazed by the amount of community support he's witnessed through this devastating event.
"I really think the community and the county has pulled closer together," he said. "everyday last week, we saw over 400 volunteers filling sandbags. I mean everyday and through the weekend. We filled over 200,000 sandbags."
While Lake Conway crested Friday morning, leveling with the Arkansas River, officials issued another flood warning that evening for those living along the lake.
Lake Conway has exceeded its normal pool by nearly 5 feet but could continue rising through the rainy forecast.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said that all spillway gates have been opened "to allow additional water to discharge from the lake" but that it could take "several days before the lake drops below flood stage."
Central Arkansas was expected to receive up to 2 inches of rainfall Friday, which Baker said could greatly affect those along the lake.
While those living along Cadron Creek suffered from the flooding incident as well, Baker said those waters are beginning to recede, though it could take a while.
As of Friday, at least 40 roadways across the county were closed due to flooding.
Baker also said he expects it to take a least two weeks, possibly longer, for waters across the county to recede enough for officials to begin assessing damages caused by the historic 2019 Arkansas River Flood.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has sent off a letter to President Donald Trump requesting a Federal Disaster Declaration for Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell counties following the severe impacts of the Arkansas River Flood.
Preliminary damage assessments estimated the need for $27,198,644 to cover the costs of temporary housing, repair and replacement housing along with other needs for those affected by the flooding event.
“It’s important to note that these are early estimates on damages from a flood of historic proportion, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the final damage assessments will be record breaking, as well,” Hutchinson said. “These preliminary estimates are based upon assessments while the water is still in place. As the water recedes, we will have a clearer picture of the overall damage in the state, but it’s important to get this information in as quickly as possible so that the President can have the information needed to act.”
Estimates for debris removal and emergency protective measure for local and state government is estimated at $8,582,910. As stated in the request, officials expect the additional infrastructure losses to be in excess of $100 million.
“We are able to request a federal disaster declaration at this early stage because of the outstanding coordination between our local, state and federal partners,” Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management A.J. Gary said. “The leadership and support from Governor Hutchinson has allowed us to conduct damage assessments as quickly as possible and begin the recovery process to assist those citizens impacted.”