Most of Arkansas had received 4 to 10 inches of rain by Friday after 72 hours of downpours. Hundreds of roads were closed and emergency workers had conducted numerous water rescues.
It's not over.
Thunderstorms expected to roll through the state today -- some potentially dangerous -- are forecast to drop as much as 4 more inches of rain. Severe-weather warnings and flash flooding are expected, forecasters said.
The front creating all the wet weather originated in Texas and has carried rain into the Midwest. Flooding that prompted evacuations in parts of the Midwest persisted Friday in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio and was expected to last through the weekend in areas that have been swamped by high water from heavy rains and melting snow.
Waters receded in South Bend and Goshen, Ind., but flooding remained there and elsewhere. The National Weather Service said a number of Michigan rivers could reach record levels in the coming days. In Ohio, water inundated more roadways and basements and forecasters expected the Ohio River to reach levels not seen since the region's deadly 1997 floods.
Restaurants and other business and recreation spots from Cincinnati for miles east along the river closed as water cut off roadways and swamped parks. Forecasters warned people living along rivers, streams and creeks in southern Ohio, southeastern Indiana and northern Kentucky to be especially cautious and prepared for rapid rises.
Numerous rivers in Arkansas are in minor flood stage, according to the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, but meteorologist Michael Brown said he expects flooding to be limited to fields, roads and homes in low-lying areas.
Arkansans should be concerned about the potential severity of today's storms that will hold high winds and a risk of tornadoes, Brown said.
"People should be very weather-aware [today]," he said. "It's going to be hard to drive."
Faulkner County officials began providing sandbags Friday to residents, many of whom were barricading their homes along Lake Conway, where most of the county's water drains. County Attorney David Hogue said the county's office of emergency management and fire departments and other public-safety agencies assisted in the effort.
Craighead County officials are on standby for emergencies in Randolph County, where a levee on the Black River breached last year and hasn't been repaired, said Tony Thomas, an assistant to County Judge Ed Hill. The Black River was in minor flood stage Friday afternoon.
With more rain expected, emergency management officials said they'd keep tabs on river levels and road closures and coordinate rescues.
Four counties -- Chicot, Clark, Randolph and White -- have already declared emergencies, according to Dan Noble, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
Overflowing creeks closed Arkansas 7 and Arkansas 8 on Thursday in Clark County. So Friday morning Troy Tucker, the county judge for Clark County, took a long and winding route as his usual 9-mile commute to Arkadelphia was cut off. He traveled Arkansas 9 in Clark County to Dallas County and then Hot Spring County, then Arkansas 222 back west to U.S. 67 south to Arkadelphia for a total of 56 miles.
He didn't need an audiobook or anything else to help pass time thanks to all of the reports of flood damage coming in.
"My phone kept me entertained," Tucker said. "I had plenty of phone calls."
Tucker said he was concerned that overflowing creeks and the Ouachita River had cut off the east side of the county from Arkadelphia, meaning that any emergency services called to rural areas would have to take the same route he did.
Just south of Clark County, five boys from Ouachita Hills Academy crossed the Antoine River on Thursday night and found themselves unable to get back across.
Two adults swam across the river to get the boys but also couldn't return. Firefighters and Pike County officials responded before calling in members of the Clark County water-rescue team around 8:30 p.m.
James Tate and his crew -- which included his son Kevin, Mike Pritchard and Shane Seaton -- took inflatable boats across the fast-moving waters and took the boys back in two trips as rain continued to fall.
"It was cold," James Tate said.
Emergency crews also rescued people from homes in Clark County and White County, according to emergency officials in those counties.
Heavy rain at Lake Barnett in White County flooded the low-lying home of an elderly couple Friday, according to Tamara Jenkins, director of the White County emergency management office.
"They got out safely and they are staying with family," Jenkins said. "Their garage was located on higher ground, and they were able to drive one of their cars away."
Rains have closed dozens of roads in White County and dozens more across the state.
Law enforcement agencies and public-works departments have barricaded some roads, but that hasn't stopped people from trying to cross them.
By noon Friday, five cars in Sherwood had been submerged by floodwaters, although their drivers were safe, Mayor Virginia Young said. White County officials also had rescued numerous people from vehicles Thursday and Friday, Jenkins said.
Officials urge drivers to avoid water-covered roads, even if they have made it through such conditions before.
The advice isn't just for the sake of the driver, Jenkins said.
"We have to put other people in danger to get them out," she said.
Heavy rain also has created problems on open roads in Little Rock, with drivers reporting sizable potholes along Kanis Road and Markham Street. City officials said rain doesn't create potholes but can make them larger by weakening the asphalt. Rain also prevents the use of pothole-repair methods that work better in warmer weather.
The National Weather Service predicts some rivers will crest today and will return to normal by Sunday. Others will be at flood stage for longer, such as the White River near Augusta and the Cache River near Patterson.
The National Weather Service said only one river -- Little River near Horatio -- was in major flood stage at its 4 p.m. measurement Friday. Officials in Sevier County did not return a phone message left late Friday afternoon.
Brown said this round of round of rain was caused when "deep troughing" of low air pressure out west met high pressure to the east, creating high levels of moisture in the air.
The rain should taper off across most of the state by Sunday but could return by midweek, he said, noting this is just the beginning of flood season in Arkansas.
Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.
Faulkner County Office of Emergency Management Director Shelia Bellott (left) and Preston Scroggin prepare sandbags Friday at the county Road Department. Many of them went to people barricading their homes around Lake Conway, where most of the county’s water drains.
Carol Morris (left) and Garland County sheriff’s Deputy Justin Butcher help a woman to an ambulance Friday after she was rescued from the Middle Branch of Gulpha Creek, where she was stranded while trying to cross a low-water bridge that was under water. Garland County Deputy Elwood McConnell and Mason McKinney of the county’s search-and-rescue team pulled her to safety with ropes and life vests.
State transportation workers clear a blocked drainage ditch Friday near Cantrell Road and Riverfront Drive in Little Rock.
Metro on 02/24/2018
Print Headline: Arkansas' rainy days swell rivers, send water over roads