05/30/2018 - 16:03

Heavy rain has fallen across Arkansas for the past week, particularly in St. Francis County, which has experienced flooding throughout the county. Area officials are warning residents to slow down and avoid high water to prevent wrecks and accidents.
Over the past week, St. Francis County has received up to eight inches of rain, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Zach Maye. "Over the past seven days, depending on where you're at in the county…there's been anywhere from five to eight plus inches in St. Francis County," he said.
According to Lt. David Moore, with the Arkansas State Police, there were four accidents on Interstate 40 yesterday that resulted in parts of the interstate being shut down for 30 minutes to an hour. Moore said that three of those accidents could be attributed to the weather.
One of the major dangers during heavy rains is the possibility of hydroplaning, according to Moore. He said that drivers can have wrecks when their tires are not in contact with the road surface due to water. "When it starts to rain, you need to slow down. Water builds up on the road, but a lot of times, people drive highway speed or faster. With a little bit of water, the tires are not touching the surface of the roadway," he said.
Moore advises drivers to slow down while
According to St. Francis County Emergency Services Coordinator Shane Dallas, area first responders have performed multiple water rescues due to flooding waters. "We have worked several water rescues and stalled vehicles over the past 24 hours. We've seen people try to drive their cars through water and have their motors stall out because the water was too high," he said.
Dallas reminds residents to "Turn Around, Don't Drown," because many roads have high flowing water across them. The depth and speed of the flow is not always apparent, he said, but it can get high enough to get into a vehicle's motor and stall it out.
Numerous county roads have gone under water or are at danger to be submerged, and Dallas warns residents to find alternate routes to avoid getting stuck or stalling out. St. Francis County Roads 415, 430, 433, 436, 442, 736 and 1004 have either gone under water or are at risk to do so, according to Dallas. In addition, Dallas warns that Highway 50 North may soon have water across it.
While barricades have been placed in front of many of the flooded county roads, Dallas warns residents not to depend on the barricades. Barricades could get pushed aside, obscured or moved to where they cannot be seen. "Even if there are no barricades, if the water is high, turn around," he said.
The water levels of area rivers have also risen due to the increased rain and are now at flood level. Dallas said that the St. Francis River is currently at 32 feet, which is flood stage, and he expects it to reach 32.5 feet by Tuesday. The L'Anguille River is currently at 27.6 feet. ""We had experienced some fall in the water level, but it has come back up due to the rain," Dallas said.
These rivers flow into the Mississippi River, which is also at "action stage," according to Dallas, and they cannot drain quickly. Until the Mississippi River's water level decreases, both the St. Francis River and the L'Anguille River will drain slowly. "The Mississippi River is at action stage and that is where our water drains," he said. "We're probably going to have slow drainage until it goes down."
According to the National Weather Service, the forecast does not show any rain in the area until Monday. "The rain has more or less come to an end. We'll be drying out. The clouds will start clearing, and we'll see more pleasant weather as we go into the weekend," Maye said.
The lack of rain should allow the area to dry out some, according to Dallas, but he said that the remaining water will still be dangerous. "We have no rain in the forecast until Monday. Hopefully, we'll be able to dry out," he said. ""I anticipate a lot of water sticking around for a few days."


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