This story is written by Red Cross worker Brigette Williams.
Hurricane Isaac, now downgraded as a tropical depression, continues to make its presence felt nationally, after a perplexing and slow moving destructive dance through Mississippi and Louisiana. Unwelcomed movement continued across Arkansas as drenching rains dropped as much as eight inches in many areas Thursday. Record breaking rains caused the National Weather Service to issue a five hour emergency flash flood warning for several counties in southeastern Arkansas Friday. Portions of the state was also under a tornado watch.
One of the hardest hit areas, Pine Bluff, 40 miles southeast of Little Rock, endured more than four feet of flood waters Friday morning, causing at least two cars to float down highway 63, and major complication to school buses maneuvering around flooded roads. Water rescues were made to aid residents caught in the fast moving event. “As long as I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen this much water downtown,” stated American Red Cross In Arkansas Disaster Zone Manager Michele Metott-Works. Streets surrounding the Pine Bluff Red Cross office were filled with rushing water. The office was not damaged.
At least eighteen homes in Pine Bluff have been identified with flood waters inside the structures. Red Cross damage assessment was interrupted as another series of Isaac caused storms moved across the area Friday evening, causing the National Weather Service to place several counties under the morning emergency flash flood warnings, back under a flash flood alert. Disaster Teams will be out today to complete assessment.
Winds from Isaac also knocked large trees into homes in Chicot County in southern Arkansas and Pulaski County in central Arkansas. More than 20,000 homes statewide lost power as the system circled the state. Entergy Arkansas has restored power to 16,000 homes as of Friday.
Portions of central and northeast Arkansas remain under a slight risk for tornadoes today. Persons are asked to stay aware of Isaac’s potentially dangerous path during the holiday weekend as it continues to move across the country. Listen to your local weather reports for conditions at the beginning, as well as along any travel routes.
A convenient way to stay aware of weather conditions can be made by downloading the American Red Cross hurricane app, great for weather alerts and preparedness tips for tornadoes and floods in addition to hurricanes. Information on more preparedness tips, to become a volunteer or to make a donation to help thousands of neighbors affected by Hurricane Isaac can be found at www.arkansasredcross.org or www.redcross.org