LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) —
At least sixteen people have been killed and dozens more remain missing after flash flooding in western Arkansas on early Friday, officials said on early Saturday.
Flash flooding from the Little Missouri River created a ‘wall of water’, striking two large camping sites. “Intense search and rescue operations are underway,” a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said. He said search and rescue teams from three counties were assisting, as well as the National Guard and a Blackhawk helicopter with lifting capabilities.
The spokesman said the river near Albert Pike Camp Ground rose over 20 feet and campers were hit by what was described as “a wall of water.” It happened around 5.30 a.m. local time.
It is unclear how many people remain missing, and unofficial reports range from 30 to as many as 80. The spokesman said more than 30 people had been rescued.
Governor Mike Beebe declared Montgomery and Pike Counties disaster areas in the aftermath of the deadly flash flooding. Beebe toured some of the flooded campsites where the water had already receded, and visited with survivors and victims’ families.
“I”ve seen flooding before, but I’ve never seen water do this kind of damage,” Beebe said. “While this tragedy occurred in Arkansas, many of these campers were visiting us from Louisiana and Texas, and our hearts go out to everyone who lost loved ones. We are continuing the search over a wide area and offering whatever help we can to the families of all these victims.”
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) has opened a phone bank to collect information about possible missing persons. Those with information can call 1-888-683-2336 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.