Report Critical of Forest Service at Fatal Flood Site
A report released Oct. 22 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is critical of decision-making and a lack of warning systems in place at the time of the June 11 flash flood that killed 20 campers along the Little Missouri River, KATV-TV, Little Rock, reported.
The flooding was most severe at the Loop-D area of the Albert Pike Campground near Langley, Ark.
The USDA report, completed with the help of the U.S. Forest Service, first states that a method used to determine the 100-year flood plain elevation at the Loop-D campground site was erroneous. The report says this error allowed construction of the campground, even though it was within the flood plain area.
The report goes on to state that the Ouachita National Forest failed to post flood hazard warning signs in the campground, despite an established history of flooding in the area.
Furthermore, a lack of 24-hour radio dispatch services and monitoring “did not permit the receipt of weather notices in a timely manner or notice to the volunteer host or other Forest Service employees”.
The report also points out that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather radio transmitter system was down in the area. KATV first investigated and reported that fact in late June. Also a secondary transmitter system had a signal too weak to reach the flooded area.
The report does offer praise for emergency responders to the scene. “The emergency response effort by the Forest Service and Forest Service Law Enforcement personnel (state and county officials also responded) was at times valiant and effective, particularly in view of the treacherous conditions these first responders encountered,” the report says.