- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Record rainfall that flooded about 300 homes in Jonesboro has forced officials in the northeastern Arkansas city to spend nearly $2 million to clean 54 miles of drainage ditches.

Heavy rain in a short time on May 24 caused Jonesboro’s drainage ditches to overflow, sending water into homes and closing streets. The flooding nearly caused the death of a Jonesboro youth who was rescued in a culvert hours after he was washed away.

The National Weather Service in North Little Rock recorded 6.19 inches of rain at Jonesboro Municipal Airport during a three-hour period, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/29thVe7 ).

David Moore, the Craighead County Office of Emergency Management Service coordinator, called the rain “devastating” and “record-setting.”

“It was the most rain Jonesboro ever had for one day,” said meteorologist Jeff Hood of the National Weather Service. “The rain came in such a short duration and it caused all that flooding.”

L.M. Duncan, an assistant to Mayor Harold Perrin, said the rainfall flooded in an older residential area near a major drainage ditch as well as in central and north Jonesboro.

“When you get that much rain in three hours, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Duncan said.

The city has two ditch-cleaning excavators, but workers were busy repairing concrete tiles this year, rather than clearing flood ways.

“We didn’t keep the ditches up as good as we should have,” Duncan said. “But when we get that much water that quickly, it has nowhere to go. In this case, there was too much rain.”

The city intends to buy a third excavator for about $360,000 and use it specifically for clearing trees, shrubs, silt and other debris from the ditches this summer, Duncan said.

Duncan said workers will clean the ditches this summer and work with county crews to ensure water will continue to flow through the ditches beyond Jonesboro. The City Council agreed to spend $1.8 million on the project, he said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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