The Arkansas River is expected to crest higher and later than initially expected in the Little Rock area. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forecasts the river will likely crest at 29 feet next Thursday. That’s one foot more than the 28 feet the river was expected to reach on Monday. Speaking during a news conference on Thursday, Jon Honeywell, director of Public Works for Little Rock said the city will reach lower levels of water compared to other areas of the state.
"Fortunately for Little Rock, we are not going to be experiencing a record level. However, this is the highest level that Little Rock has seen since the navigation system has been put in place on the river," Honeywell said. He highlighted some areas the city is monitoring for flooding. Those include the Ranch area in west Little Rock, the Rebsamen Park area, the Riverdale district along Riverfront Drive, the Riverfront along downtown Little Rock and east of the airport.
While these spots were marked as areas of concern when the predicted water level was 28 feet, Honeywell does not expect the conditions to change and impact any residential or commercial buildings at 29 feet. The largest effect flood waters will have in these areas would be on roads, parking lots and in park areas.
"We do not see an impact coming to these spots from 29 either at this point," Honeywell said. He also went over road closures for the areas. Roads currently closed are Rebsamen Park Road, River Mountain Road as well as the Big Dam Bridge, the Two Rivers Park Bridge and the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge. Starting Friday, Riverfront Drive and Cottondale Drive will also close for improvement to the levee located there. Riverfront Drive will be accessible through Riverdale Road and Cedar Hill Road. According to Honeywell, the city is also providing sandbags to the public to help with the flooding. The first location with loaded sandbags is at the Public Works Operations facility. The second, located at War Memorial Stadium, is opening Thursday afternoon.
"This is going to be a self service location. We are going to be depositing several loads of sand and a large amount of empty sand bags that the public can go bring their own shovels, equipment and fill as many sandbags as they would like," Honeywell said. The War Memorial site will be open 24 hours, seven days a week. If residential or commercial areas are affected, Matt Burks with the Little Rock emergency management division, says residents should call the Little Rock Police Department Telephone Reporting Unit to report the damage.
"This information is important to us as a city. Not only does it let us know the size and the scope of the flooding damage and the impact on Little Rock, but it also will help us in the process of getting any federal assistance that we can get for our residents," Burks said. The number to call is 501-918-4391. While the city mainly expects roads to be affected, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. says people should heed the barricades officials have set up.
"We’ve seen far too many times individuals who want to test the flood waters. Not only their vehicles are being put in danger, they’re being put in danger." Scott said. "And most importantly, the people who wake up every day to protect and serve each of us, their lives are being put in danger by individuals who are testing the waters."