Rescuers Search for Ark. Flash Flood Victims: 18 Dead, 22 Missing
June 13, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Rescuers in Arkansas continue to search for victims of a flash flood that left 18 campers confirmed dead and dozens more missing. The vacationing families, mostly from Louisiana and Texas, were enjoying a wilderness getaway at the Albert Pike Recreation Area in the scenic Ouachita National Forest, when disaster struck late Friday night, as the Caddo Gap and Little Missouri Rivers quickly rose from 3.5 feet to over 23.5. The campground with sleeping vacationers in tents and campers was quickly flooded, drowning many of the campers, about a third of them children.
Even as the flood waters have receded, the rough terrain makes it difficult for rescuers to search for victims:
“As the engorged river — which surged more than 20 feet in a matter of hours early Friday morning — began to recede, some rescuers were able to navigate a 20-mile stretch of river by kayak, canoe and water scooter; others took to the woods on foot, horseback or all-terrain vehicles.”
It’s estimated that as many as 300 people were camping in the 54-site campground in the Albert Pike Recreation Area, but authorities can’t be sure, as the sign-in records were destroyed in the flood.
Gov. Mike Beebe, said during a news conference “There’s not much you can say.” “You try to be whatever comfort you can. They’re virtually in a state of shock.”
President Obama spoke to Gov. Beebe pledging federal assistance and he offered his condolences for the lives lost. Additionally, a review of the actions of local officials and procedures for warning campers of floods, will be conducted.
The aftermath of the flash floods left campers and SUVs in a twisted pile, and survivors in shock:
“Huge chunks of buckled asphalt had been deposited in drainage ditches. The back end of a white Dodge minivan was lodged four feet up a tree trunk with its nose pointed into the dirt. A camper had been stripped of its back wall, exposing neat stacks of blankets and an unsliced watermelon.”
The search efforts, organized from a command center in Langley, Arkansas could last for weeks.
Photo Source: Ouachita National Forest