• Flooding causing problems near Mississippi river

    By: Tony Atkins

    Updated:

    OSCEOLA, Ark. - Heavy rains and an elevated Mississippi River are causing issues for some Eastern Arkansas residents.

    The Mississippi waters near Osceola are slowly going down but they are still well above the major flood stage. 

    FOX13 spoke with the manager of a trailer community that sits right beside the Osceola levee.


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    He said drainage ditches on a state-maintained road have led to some problems. 

    “Supposedly they’re addressing the issue. I’m waiting to see what they’re going to do,” said Billy Willbanks, manager of the River Oak Mobile Homes near the river. 

    Willbanks has managed the community for years.

    The Mississippi river has been in the major flood stage since late February-- right now, it is at about 40 feet, about 12 feet higher than the minor flood stage. 

    Willbanks said it’s getting to some of their doorsteps. 

    “For the past year, we’ve had this repeatedly,” Willbanks said. “Everywhere in town would be dry, but in this part of Osceola it would be holding water.” 

    Willbanks said part of the problem is on the state-maintained road out front, which he said needs clean storm drains. 

    “Supposedly they’re addressing the issue. I’m waiting to see what they’re going to do,” he said.

    The community sits less than a half mile east of the swollen Mississippi on the other side of the levee. 

    Willbanks said he’s hoping the state can help clean the drains before water gets this high in the future. 

    WATER SHOULDN’T AFFECT OSCEOLA LEVEES

    “It’s just a tremendous amount of rain this month across the North American continent,” said Clif Chitwood, Mississippi Co. economic developer.

    Chitwood said the water has not been this high since 2011.

    Despite the major flooding, he does not think the water is not a significant problem to Osceola--thanks to its levee.

    “Without the St. Francis levee district, I’m not sure there would be an Eastern Arkansas in any economic viable terms,” Chitwood said. 

    Even with flood levels of about 40-feet, the Mississippi River is significantly lower than the levee’s threshold. 

    “It would take an unimaginable event, really, like the Great Lakes flooding into the Mississippi River, to threaten this levee,” Chitwood said. 

    FOX13 learned it takes millions per year to keep the levee in good condition.

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