By Franklin County Joint Information Center
Last night the Arkansas Highway Department closed Hwy 64 East in Ozark at Second Street and at Barcliff Lane. Water has risen over the highway between these locations. Some local traffic is still passing in this area, but there is no longer a through passages between Ozark and Altus. Travelers may use I-40 and Highway 186. Emergency response agencies have been made aware of the closures and will be using the quickest alternate routes to provide service.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Ozark Police Department are asking that sight seers please refrain from coming to the flooded areas. According to Ozark Police Chief Devin Bramlett these areas are congested, travel routes are narrowed and are improvised at some areas, such as, the Ozark Post Office Parking lot. Franklin County Chief Deputy Jeff Woods is asking citizens to please not risk driving through the flood water. He added that the water can be hiding hidden hazards that can damage a vehicle, and, even if it is fairly shallow, drivers run the risk of sliding off into what may be a considerably deeper ditch.
Our area has experience its first flood related fatality in Sebastian County. A 64 year old Charleston man was located drowned in his van in a ditch along Highway 22 near Ft. Chaffee.
The 5:00 AM reading for the Arkansas River at the Ozark Lock and Dam was 376.43 for the headwater and 374.89 for the tailwater. Citizens may notice some raising and lowering of the water levels as some relief is provided by lakes in Oklahoma retaining water before releasing it and there is some downstream relief being provided.
Franklin County has established two Hot Lines to provide assistance to those impacted by the flood. If you need non-emergency help such as food, sandbags or shelter, call 479-213-6015. If you want to volunteer to help, please call 479-213-6551. Please do not call either of these numbers to inquire about road conditions. A comprehensive list of local road closing is can be found at www.fcoem.org. For those needing travel information for outside the county, please check the I Drive Arkansas website.
Persons needing prescriptions should call their pharmacy to receive instructions on how they can get them filled and delivered. The Postal Service is working to get prescriptions that are delivered by mail to residents south of the River redirected to the Cecil Post Office. More information regarding this is on the OEM website at www.fcoem.org or you can call the Cecil Post office at 479-667-4325 on weekdays between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM.
Franklin County Judge Rickey Bowman again wants to thank the citizens for their cooperation and patience for what has been a trying time for us. He noted that volunteers from across the county have provided assistance and offered to help out with the cleanup operations once they begin. Bowman said the various government agencies have worked well together to provide the needed services. He reminds citizens to enroll in the CodeRed system to receive urgent and emergency messages. You can sign up on the Emergency Management website at www.fcoem.org and click on CodeRed.