Satur­day storms bring high winds, flooded roads

Record rain falls in El Do­rado

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page - By Madeleine Ler­oux Man­ag­ing Edi­tor

It’s been two week­ends in a row of record rain in Union County, with the most re­cent round break­ing a pre­vi­ous record for daily rain­fall in El Do­rado.

On Satur­day, a round of se­vere storms rolled through the re­gion and, while Union County es­caped the large hail and tor­na­does that struck else­where in the south, high winds and tor­ren­tial rain quickly flooded the area.

According to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice of­fice in Shreve­port, Louisiana, the amount of rain that fell Satur­day in El Do­rado broke a record for daily to­tals with 3.24 inches fall­ing, the high­est daily to­tal since records be­gan be­ing kept in 1930. The pre­vi­ous record for daily rain­fall in El Do­rado was 1.99 inches in 1968.

Record rain also fell in Mon­roe, Louisiana, and Tyler, Texas, on Satur­day, according to the weather ser­vice.

In Hut­tig, mem­bers of the Hut­tig Fire De­part­ment spent much of Satur­day clear­ing trees from roads and deal­ing with flooded lo­ca­tions. According to so­cial me­dia posts, a live power line was brought down with a tree by a pav­il­ion at the park on Cy­press Street and sev­eral streets had to be closed due to flood­ing.

Late Satur­day af­ter­noon, Union County Judge Mike Loftin posted on Face­book that “all of the low ly­ing ar­eas in the County are flooded,” adding that it was im­pos­si­ble to bar­ri­cade every flooded road and re­mind­ing peo­ple to stay home if at all pos­si­ble and, if it wasn’t, to travel with ex­treme cau­tion. He also thanked road de­part­ment em­ploy­ees who have had to deal with flood wa­ters and downed trees two week­ends in a row.

Loftin did not re­turn calls for com­ment Mon­day. Felsen­thal Mayor Linda New­bury said Mon­day that the area was do­ing pretty well, con­sid­er­ing the amount of rain in the last cou­ple of weeks. Felsen­thal sits near the Oua­chita River and has a his­tory of flood­ing. New­bury said the bridge on Dol­lar Junc­tion Road – one of the two main ways out of town – was not un­der wa­ter, but a por­tion of the road still was on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

The Oua­chita River is ex­pected to rise, she said, and with more rain on the way, New­bury said it’s hard to know what to ex­pect.

“Right now, we’re far­ing fairly well,” New­bury said, not­ing that she had no re­ports of downed trees in the area. “If we don’t get too much more rise out of this wa­ter, we should be al­right.”

She said area res­i­dents pretty much know that if they can see the yel­low line on Dol­lar Junc­tion Road, most ve­hi­cles, such as pickup trucks, can get through, but not lower sit­ting, com­pact cars. She warned res­i­dents

not to try to get through the area if the line was not vis­i­ble, as it’s im­pos­si­ble to know what is un­der the wa­ter.

“You never know what hap­pens un­der­neath the wa­ter,” she said. “The road could be un­der­cut some­how or an­other and then you’ve got a big pot­hole and then what do you do? You’re kind of stuck.”

New­bury noted that Felsen­thal does have an emergency storm siren, but it can only be ac­ti­vated on site, mean­ing a city em­ployee must brave the bad weather and flood­ing in or­der to ac­ti­vate the siren. She said they have ap­plied for a grant that would al­low for se­cure phone-in ser­vice, en­abling the des­ig­nated em­ployee to ac­ti­vate the siren with­out hav­ing to be on site.

“Satur­day night re­ally en­forced the need in this town to have a phonein ser­vice on that siren,” New­bury said.

She said they are ex­pect­ing to hear whether they’ve been awarded the grant fairly soon.

Al­though many have likely had their fill, more rain is ex­pected this week as a new cold front ap­proaches the area late Wed­nes­day.

According to the weather ser­vice, Union County is un­der a slight risk of se­vere weather as thun­der­storms re­turn that af­ter­noon and into Thurs­day morn­ing, with a few ex­pected to be strong or se­vere. With the heavy rain, it’s likely more flood­ing is on the way, though the weather ser­vice is warn­ing of a re­newed risk for hail, high winds and tor­na­does.

If the up­com­ing rain floods area streets like it did on Satur­day, all mo­torists should try to stay home if pos­si­ble. Some roads in El Do­rado, such as North West Av­enue near West Grove Street, flooded to the point where it looked like a small lake, but mo­torists could be seen driv­ing through the flooded area through­out the af­ter­noon.

And Tim­mins Hard­ware, lo­cated on West 5th Street, posted on Face­book that staff had found a ve­hi­cle’s front end float­ing down 5th Street on Satur­day.

Photo by Ter­rance Arm­stard/News-Times

Flood: A ve­hi­cle en­coun­ters high wa­ter as it ex­its North West Av­enue on Satur­day.

Pho­tos by Ter­rance Arm­stard/News-Times

Over­flow: Ve­hi­cles bat­tle high wa­ter along East Fifth Street and Arkansas Street af­ter heavy rains in­un­dated roads.

Wa­ter­fall: Wa­ter pours out of the HealthWorks Fit­ness Cen­ter park­ing lot onto North Madi­son on Satur­day.

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