Opposite page: Gov. Asa Hutchinson took an aerial tour of the flood-ravaged counties in Northeast Arkansas (Photo by Randall Lane, Gov- ernor’s Office) and declared disasters in 36 counties. Top, left: Volunteers turned the former Randolph County Nursing Home in Pocahontas (Randolph County) into a shelter. (Photo courtesy of Pocahontas Star Herald). Top, right: Volunteers unload provisions at the shelter. County judges said they were amazed at the number of people who volunteered to aid residents in need (Photo courtesy of Pocahontas Star Herald).

what they have done.” Tomison said he also was grateful to his fellow judges

for providing support, and the timely help from state and local groups.

“Te ability to draw on my fellow judges has been huge and appreciated,” he said. “Our sheriff’s office, Arkan- sas National Guard, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, Arkansas State Police and other state agencies have been forefront and immediate.” Prairie County Judge Mike Skarda said the amount of help his county has received is inspiring. “Our people worked together, whatever it took,” he said.

“Our road department built a huge levee to protect Des Arc. When we decided we needed to sandbag a house, 60 people would show up.” Wise said residents of Pocahontas, the seat of Randolph County, worked together like a large family. Even before the Black River swelled to more than 28 feet and caused nine levees to breach, they prepared for the inevitable by doing whatever they could to help their neighbors on the east side of town — the side that would see the most devastation. Residents drove trailer after trailer to homes, businesses and churches, picking up people and their belongings and moving them to higher ground. Tey also piled sandbags and dug dirt walls to keep the water out of buildings. Tis is not the first time Randolph, Lawrence and Prai- rie counties have endured historic flooding. A 2011 flood caused the White River to crest to 39.4 feet. Because of the devastation of the 2011 flood, Lawrence County was prepared to evacuate, Judge Tomison said. “It was striking that we received so much cooperation in the midst of this crisis,” he said. “Te majority of people heeded our warnings, and this helped us a lot.” He and Skarda said agriculture took the hardest blow from the deep water, and their economy will suffer. Te University


of Arkansas Division of Agriculture estimated crop losses to be at least $64.5 million — and that number could rise. Arkansas farmers planted an estimated 1.2 million rice

acres this spring. One of the key differences between the 2011 and 2017 floods is the timing. About 45 percent of the rice crop was in the ground when the levee system in Pocahontas ruptured in 2011, and widespread flooding oc- curred throughout the Mississippi Delta Region. Tis year, 89 percent of the rice crop had already been planted. Gov. Hutchinson and national lawmakers petitioned the federal government for flood-related agricultural aid, as ag- riculture insurance regulations gave farmers until June 9 to replant their crops. Te Governor asked U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Perdue to extend that deadline. In late May, the USDA declared 23 Arkansas counties disas-

ter areas and another 23 counties as continguous disaster areas. It gave farmers in eligible counties eight months to apply for emergency loans from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. In addition, the governor asked the Arkansas Development

Finance Authority to allocate up to $5 million in U.S. De- partment of Housing and Urban Development funds to assist residents forced from their homes because of the flooding. “As you are aware, the recent flooding has devastated nu-

merous counties across Arkansas, especially in the north- eastern part of the state,” Hutchinson wrote in a letter to authority President Aaron Burkes. “Hundreds of residents in those counties fled their homes, and although many have returned, countless still need housing.” In addition, projects such as jail construction and court- house renovation have been delayed in Lawrence County. And there is still a lot of cleaning and rebuilding to do in Randolph County. But life will move on after the flood, the Lawrence and Randolph county judges said. “We’ll rebuild and we’ll make it work,” Judge Jansen said. “We always have.”


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