Flash floods caused by rains across parts of the state have mostly receded

Barricades block Tull Bridge Road in Saline County Wednesday Jan. 24, 2024. Submitted photo by Trevor Villines
Barricades block Tull Bridge Road in Saline County Wednesday Jan. 24, 2024. Submitted photo by Trevor Villines

Flash floods across parts of the state as a result of rain Tuesday had mostly receded Wednesday, with exceptions, as more rain is forecast for Thursday through Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas Department of Transportation spent Wednesday repairing potholes that were left in the wake of last week’s winter storm.

According to a department news release, it will spend $8-10 million on in labor and materials — including salt, salt brine, equipment and working hours — for the cleanup process.

ARDOT said it was putting a priority on repairing large potholes in work zones on Interstate 30 in Saline County and U.S. 67/167 in Jacksonville.

The right-hand, westbound lanes for a four-mile stretch of I-30 in Saline County were closed for emergency repairs as of around 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to ARDOT.

The lanes closed just before 1:30 p.m., the department said in its news release. The section from around mile marker 111 to 115 was closed, according to an online map highlighting traffic conditions in the state.

Crews are filling multiple potholes in the area, the department said. No detour was listed online, and traffic in the area had slowed.

The westbound right lane was closed earlier on Wednesday due to other pothole repairs and a stalled tractor-trailer.

Because of the week’s worth of rain, repairs are expected to take longer as crews wait for the pavement to dry.

“With the period of extreme cold we experienced, now followed by a period of extreme rain, we are left vulnerable to prime pothole conditions,” said Steve Frisbee, ARDOT’s Assistant Chief Engineer of Maintenance, in the press release. “We are all frustrated by them, and we all want them fixed. Please be patient as our crews and our contractors work diligently to repair our roads in the wake of this storm.”

On Tuesday, Little Rock saw a daily rainfall record for Jan. 23 of 2.59 inches.

As a result of that record rainfall, Pulaski County posted on Wednesday morning a list of seven roads that were hazardous to travel on, including German Road, Colonel Glenn, and Lunn Road.

“Since Dec. 1 we’re running about maybe an inch above normal,” said Willie Gilmore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “In one day we got about the same amount of rain we (usually) get for the entire month.”

Areas to the southwest were hit harder, as cities like Malvern and Arkadelphia received around three to four inches.

Flooding from the rain on certain bus routes in Hot Spring County and faculty members being stuck in flooded areas forced the Malvern School District to cancel classes for the day.

But by the afternoon, the Malvern Police Department said roads had returned to normal

A representative with Hot Spring County Department of Emergency Management said there was no reported damage as a result of flooding.

By 1:45 p.m., Michael Anderson, an employee with the Hot Spring County Road Department, said they weren’t aware of any remaining flooded roads.

“We don’t have anything closed today due to flooding,” Anderson said. “Water went down just about as quick as it came up.”

That wasn’t the case in Clark County.

According to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management at 3:07 pm., the county reported that Arkansas 7/8 and Arkansas 128 each had two-mile stretches that were closed. Arkansas 182 had closed and opened a couple of times due to the water levels of the Ouachita River rising and falling, causing tributaries to rise.

There was no reported damages caused by the flooding, but a spokesperson said that could change once the water receded.

In Saline County, there were at least four county roads that “were flooded or impassible” around noon, according to Trevor Villines, Saline County’s Communications Director.

That included South Sardis Road, Grande Ave/Shaw Bridge, Mount Olive and the Highway 2911 Tull Bridge over the Saline River.

In Bauxite, Arkansas 183 was shut down near Lake Street around 4:30 p.m. due to water across the road following the failure of a large culvert, according to a post on the Bauxite Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Villines said that he “can’t emphasize enough that folks have got to abide by” signs indicating roads are closed due to high water.

As for what was being done to address the flooding, Villines said it’s “all going to depend on Mother Nature.”

Rain remains in the forecast for this week, but primarily in the southeast portion of the state.

“Basically, far Southeast Arkansas will see potential for maybe another inch or so, inch-and-a-half through Thursday afternoon,” Gilmore said. “Most of the rest of the state should see maybe a half inch or less.”

Another round is expected Friday night into Saturday that could bring up to an inch of rain.

“With more rain forecasted, local authorities are keeping an eye on flood prone areas,” said LaTresha Woodruff, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. “If need be, they will close roads in those areas. They’re just asking people to be vigilant and take the necessary safety precautions should flooding occur.”

Information for this report was provided by Parker Mancino and Remington Miller of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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