- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Waterlogged communities in central and southwest Arkansas braced for more flooding Monday as record rainfall from Oklahoma made its way downriver.

Some residents in Miller and Jefferson counties remained in shelters as waters from the overflowing Arkansas and Red rivers creeped into homes and shuttered roadways. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management activated its emergency operations center Monday after high water reports.

More than 10 inches of rain have fallen across most of Oklahoma and western Arkansas during the past 30 days. Some areas have received more than 20 inches, which has been record-setting across the southern Plains. The Red River in Texarkana and the Arkansas River in Van Buren, Tailwater and Pine Bluff all experienced major flooding - the most severe designator by the National Weather Service.

The storms have killed at least 31 people and left 11 missing, the majority of which have been in Texas.

No injuries from the storms have been reported in Jefferson or Miller counties, area authorities said.

Maj. Lafayette Woods with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said residents of about 40 homes in Island Harbor were forced to evacuate because of high waters.

Larry Pritchett, Miller County Emergency Management Coordinator, says about 50 people in the approximately 240-person city of Garland have voluntarily evacuated. Workers have set up sandbags.

“Now we’re just sitting and waiting to see what the river is going to do,” Pritchett said.

Meanwhile, a search for a man lost in the currents of the Red River in Little River County remained stalled as major flooding levels remained unsafe for first responders. Deputy Rhonda Green said 27-year-old Dugan Ward has been missing since Thursday. She said he was boating with his mother and father on the river when debris sunk the craft. The group was working to get to higher ground when the family’s dog jumped from Ward’s arms and he was lost in the waters trying to retrieve the animal.

Hydrologist Tabitha Clarke with the National Weather Service in North Little Rock said Arkansas’ rivers have already crested once from the rain and levels will remain high as water from Oklahoma lakes flows downriver.

“We crested once from our rain, and we’ll crest again when all the water being released in Oklahoma makes it downstream,” Clarke said. “They’re going to be releasing water probably for weeks.”


Associated Press writer Claudia Lauer contributed to this report.



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