Scientists Study Arkansas Campground Flood Site

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June 16, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey spent Tuesday (June 15) investigating the rural Arkansas campground where a massive pre-dawn flash flood killed 20 people.

The researchers were working to determine how high and how fast the water moved when it poured into the Albert Pike Recreation Area in southwest Arkansas early Friday. Flood specialist Robert Holmes said it will take scientists a few weeks to calculate the flow rate, based on the information gathered Tuesday at the campground, the Houston Chronicle reported.

"It's almost like being a detective, trying to figure out how high the water got," he said.

Holmes said scientists found the flooding wasn't consistent throughout the campground.

"We had extremes in some of the campsites," he said. "There was probably 5 to 10 feet of water to 15 feet of water, depending on where they were at."

State police spokesman Bill Sadler said Tuesday that the 20th victim, a young girl whose body was found Monday, had been positively identified, but authorities were still trying to reach her family before releasing her name. State police have said it's unlikely there are any more victims but that they can't yet be certain.

Sadler said the problem was authorities were unable to compile a reliable accounting of who was at the campground early Friday, so they want to make sure there are no bodies of people not previously known to have been in the area. Sadler said state police would "maintain a presence and a continuing search-and-recovery effort for the next several days, (though) somewhat scaled back."

"We want to check vehicles that are still in the water, check license numbers and VIN numbers," Sadler said, to see if they can be tied to victims or belong to someone not previously known to have been at the site.

State police released the name of the 19th and 20th victims Tuesday — Wilene Shumake, 67, of DeKalb, Texas, and Jadyn Basinger, 9, of Gloster, La. Shumake's husband and their grandson also died in the flooding, as did Jadyn's brother and father.

Authorities said they believe many people first feared missing were camping in other parts of the state, without cell phone coverage.

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