LITTLE ROCK – In the wake of severe storms and flooding, wildlife officers with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have spent much of the last two weeks providing security, search and rescue, and evacuation to many Arkansans.
Storms have caused a great deal of damage and flooding continues to be a problem in the eastern part of the state, AGFC Chief of Enforcement Mike Knoedl says. “Our officers have the specialized training and equipment that allows them to help victims of natural disasters,” Knoedl said. “Over the past two weeks, our officers have been out saving numerous Arkansas lives.”
Along the Mississippi River, wildlife officers are patrolling the river’s levee system looking for weak spots. In the last three days, wildlife officers have been involved in several rescue attempts, including evacuating five people from rapidly rising water in Prairie County. Officers also were involved in the recovery of a body in the Raft Creek area of Prairie County, and the search continues for a Lonoke man swept away by floodwaters.
In Sharp and Fulton counties, wildlife officers have been assisting with evacuations, traffic control and damage assessment after a tornado and flooding on the Spring River. In nearby Lawrence County, officers have been assisting local authorities with road closings and evacuations.
Early last week, officers in the Perryville and Harris Brake areas assisted local law enforcement with tornado damage assessments and flooding problems along Arkansas Highway 10. Officers also assisted the Conway County Sheriff’s Office as they cleared roadways in the Oppelo area, and notified campers of the potential for rising water along the Arkansas River.
In the Beebe area, officers assisted by clearing roadways and checking on damaged homes. In the tornado-damaged Vilonia area, officers provided door-to-door searches for injured and additional security.
In Madison County, officers helped with the evacuation of a school bus that was caught in rising water. Officers also responded to a fire truck that was washed away during a rescue attempt in Carroll County.
Officers assisted with the evacuation of flood victims in Randolph County and helped the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department with a swift-water rescue on the Eleven Point River. Officers helped by patrolling flood areas by boat, and assisted with road blocks, traffic control and vehicle patrol in flooded areas. Officers transported a load of medications across the flooded Black River to medical personnel that were surrounded by floodwaters. Officers assisted with the evacuation and transport of prisoners from the Randolph County Jail to Craighead County Jail personnel.
The AGFC Enforcement Disaster Response Team has been activated and dispatched to Brinkley near where floodwaters from the White River have closed a section of Interstate 40, Knoedl said.
“Our dive team is on standby for swift-water rescue. We have special equipment and training that can be utilized in an emergency. This week, we’ve been utilizing all of our skills.”