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Flooding Threat Closes Missouri Campground

June 15, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

The death toll of last week’s deadly flooding in a western Arkansas campgrounds stands at 20, but heavy rains threaten other campgrounds in the region.

Six of the dead were children and all but two of the victims came from out of state to camp in the national forest campsite hit by a deluge, ABC News reported.

Torrential rain caused flash flooding to sweep through the camp site during the dead of night, sweeping away victims who had been sleeping.

Police spokesman Bill Sadler says rescue workers do not expect to find any more bodies.

“We have satisfied ourselves that these people have been accounted for,” he said.

But Sadler says a search and recovery mission is continuing for other recreational visitors who may have been in the park last Thursday night, but for whom police have no firm leads.

Meanwhile, Missouri Emergency Management has closed the campground at Big Lake State Park in northwest Missouri as a precautionary measure, according to OzarksFirst.com.

That’s because of its proximity to the Missouri River and heavy rainfall in northwest Missouri.

State Emergency Management is monitoring the weather forecast, working with and assisting local agencies.

The park, however, will remain open for day use, as will the park’s cabins, which are at higher elevations than the campground and removed from flood risk.

SEMA and the Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks will continue to monitor river levels near Big Lake State Park so that further action may be taken if necessary and so that the campground can be reopened once the river has receded.

The State Emergency Management Agency is monitoring potential flooding conditions in cooperation with county and local emergency managers.

SEMA is also monitoring the latest National Weather Service forecasts.

Flash floods have moved on to Oklahoma City, trapping people in cars and closing sections of major highways.

Oklahoma City spokeswoman Kristy Yager says the flooding has closed streets and crossings in the city.

“Downtown is practically impassable. There are traffic lights out and it’s very dangerous to be driving there right now,” she said.

Slow moving thunderstorms dumped 25 centimetres of rain on the city, overwhelming the sewer system and flooding portions of roads, leaving some motorists trapped in their cars, and forcing others to abandon their vehicles.

And the Associated Press reported that with the recovery of the 20th and perhaps last victim from flash floods in Arkansas, attention is turning to whether visitors to a remote campground received sufficient warnings about an approaching wall of water.

Worried forecasters sent warnings four times in an hour early Friday. But the Albert Pike Recreation Area in Montgomery County has no sirens, no park ranger on site, poor radio reception and spotty cell phone service.

The U.S. Forest Service is reviewing how to improve communication to remote camp sites in Arkansas and around the country.

Campers would have been told about a flash flood watch posted at midday Thursday, but the flood arrived after 2 a.m. Friday when many were asleep. At times, the Little Missouri River rose eight feet per hour.

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