On Friday, in a remote Arkansas campground, an as yet undetermined number of campers were killed during a heavy rains and flash flood. According to an abcnews.com report, more than “20 people…were killed early Friday morning after flash floods swept through their campsites following a heavy rain, according to Gov. Mike Beebe.” With searches expected to take the better part of the weekend at least, families of the potentially stranded are holding out for hope that this story will turn out better than it looks.
Arkansas Flood: What Happened: This terrible event is just a reminder of the intolerance of Mother Nature; sometimes even the best laid plans wind up with horrible ends like this. The campground in question, the Albert Pike campground, is a space “managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is about 75 miles west of Little Rock.” The area nearby the Ouachita Mountains is serviced by the Caddo and Little Missouri rivers whose shores are “normally gentle waterways.” However the heavy rains of the night before caused the otherwise tranquil waters to rise “by 20 feet overnight.” At least three dozen campers and hikers remain unaccounted for at this time.
Arkansas Flood: Call to Action: The thought that a bit of heavy rain could cause this devastation is reason enough for action to be swift and decisive. Too often the actions of those in charge can be apathetic and slow until folks forget the event, life goes on, and the tragedy gets far enough from our memory that something similar happens again. If the Forest Department needs to close down this section of the park until a more throughout analysis of suitability can be attained, then they definitely should do that.
Arkansas Flood: Personal Reflections: While I have never been to this area of Arkansas for camping purposes I am familiar with the area from our travels. Moreover I have been camping in Arkansas and elsewhere in the northeast; to think that our peaceful evening beneath the stars at the lakeside could be tossed asunder by some fast rains makes one take pause. I have been out in a tent in the pouring thunderstorms of the humid New England summers. We bided our time playing cards or telling stories but what if, rather than in the hills or far from the waterside, we had been in similar settings? Officials need to take proper precautions so that things like this can’t happen again.