Relentless flooding in the central U.S. from unprecedented weather has inundated communities and damaged or spilled over levees on major rivers in several states.
The fast-flowing Arkansas River smashed a 40-foot hole in a levee in rural western Arkansas, causing water to spill into a nearby community. In northeast Missouri, a levee was over-topped on the Mississippi River, and another levee was topped on the Missouri River in the central part of the state.
The flooding has been building for days because of heavy rainfall upstream. In Arkansas, officials were warning of more potential problems on an already strained levee system.
“These levees were not built to sustain this high a flow for this long, and we are seeing problems and there more than likely will be more,” said Laurie Driver, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District.
In Arkansas, the levee breached at Dardanelle, about 60 miles northwest of Little Rock. Yell County officials had anticipated the breach and urged residents in the nearby Holla Bend area to evacuate.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said crews went door to door to recommend evacuation for about 160 homes.
Yell County Emergency Manager Jeff Gilkey told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that rapid currents from the river ripped a 40-foot section from the levee. Aerial video posted by the sheriff’s office Friday showed water pouring through the hole.
“There was nothing we could do to stop it,” Gilkey said.
In Fort Smith, Arkansas, the state’s second-largest city, the river levels are holding at above-record levels. Officials there said they wouldn’t know the extent of the damage until the water receded, which could take days, if not longer.
Along the Mississippi River in Missouri levees were over-topped which has been flooding thousands of acres of farmland. Earlier about two dozen levee systems were breached or over-topped during Missouri River flooding that devastated parts of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
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