“It looks like a sea with some trees sticking up out of it.”
That’s how Mike Andrews described Pocahontas, the northeast Arkansas city that has been overtaken by record high water from the Black River that curves through town.
Andrews, the Randolph County Extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said Friday that flooding had cut off the eastern part of town and was blocking U.S. highways 67 and 63, leaving U.S. 62 and routes to Missouri as the remaining main routes in and out of town.
Nearly everything has ground to a halt except rescues, water pumps and cleanup as the river slowly recedes. The Black River, whose bends and oxbows weave in and out of farm fields and woodlands, has covered everything.
“Farming is kind of second place right now,” he said. “Just trying to make sure everybody is safe is the first thing. They’ll worry about farming in a week or two.
“All of the businesses in east Pocahontas have water in them or water up around them where you can’t get to them. There are some houses in east Pocahontas, where water is up to the rooftops -- from floor to ceiling, full of water.”
And it’s not the just the Black River, the county is also experiencing flooding from the Eleven Point and Current rivers. “They’ve done a lot of damage too.”
Andrews learned from aerial video taken by a local television station that on Randolph County farmers’ grain bins with thousands of bushels of rice, was taking on water.
“And there’s no telling how much equipment is under water. One of our 4-H families’ parents is a mechanic and he’s had a bunch of people calling to see what to do with tractors that are underwater.”
To the south, in Jackson County, Extension staff chair Randy Chlapecka said the swollen White River was receding, but “it’s going to be a slow go.
“All we can do is wait and see what happens to crops that were planted. Hopefully, we can get the water off and start over.”
In the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas, rapid-fire rains produced flooding that washed out roads, culverts and swept away fences.
“This morning I got a call from a guy who woke up with somebody else’s cattle all over his place,” said Robert Seay, Benton County Extension staff chair.
However, the rain and the cool air that moved in behind the storm fronts have helped.
“The pasture and hay situation has improved,” said Seay. “We had no subsoil moisture to speak of and even if we’d gotten normal rain, we’d be back in a drought pattern in June. We need subsoil moisture to get from June to the first of September. Needless to say, that’s been replenished.
“The moisture will trigger growth on the cool season forage, which is still our Number One pasture and hay volume acreage. It won’t pull totally out of a nose dive, but it’s better than our prospects two weeks ago or one week ago.”
For more information on crop production, contact your county Extension office or visit www.uaex.edu.