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Reported by: Lauren Trager, KARK 4 News
Wednesday, April 27 2011

Flood Levels Reaching Dangerous Heights        
The storms may be gone, but all the rain they left behind, is still wreaking havoc.

Rising rivers leading to flooding all across the Natural State as most of Arkansas remains under flash flood watches and warnings.

"It's just a lot of water, a lot of water coming down the Arkansas River," said Kane Martin.

As a hydrologist technician for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Kane Martin knows what even a little water can do.

"It is amazing what water can do and will do, as far as washing out roads and uprooting trees. It can be some dangerous stuff," Martin said.

After recent storms nearly half of the state's counties are reporting flooding. Multiple county roads are closed, parks and campgrounds turning away visitors, fearing they could get swept away.

Rivers are climbing high and picking up speed.

The Black River in northeast Arkansas, for example, averages a height of about 4 feet but Thursday it's expected to crest at 18 feet or more: the highest it's ever been recorded.

The Arkansas River too has over-run it's banks and is flowing 6 times faster than normal. Usually, at 50,000 cubic feet per second, it's now at 300,000.

"It just takes several days for those peaks to get down through the river system," said Jaysson Funkhouser with the USGS.

USGS hydrologists measure river levels giving the data to agencies who predict flood levels and help control the deluge.

The Corps of Engineers uses it to make their releases from their dams to help control the flood the best they can," Funkhouser said.

But when we caught up with them Wednesday in Morrilton, Martin and his partner are stuck on dry land. They couldn't find anywhere safe to get in the water.

Without data, critical time is wasted. To keep people safe, Martin says, they'll have to try somewhere else.

If they can get an early warning out to a town downstream that has not been affected, if they know the water will get to a certain level, well, they can get them out in time.
©  2011
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