Heavy rains this past week created extensive costs for Fulton County Road Department, while residents who dared to venture over low-water concrete slabs after the rains, were found caught in the middle, cars a drift.
Fulton County roads washed out from recent rains have reached a point that entitles the Fulton County Road Department to apply for reimbursement of road repair expenses from the state or federal government.
The Road Department began its survey of county road conditions on Friday, Oct. 23, and will continue through Wednesday, Oct. 28, in preparation for an Arkansas Department of Emergency Management visit to Fulton County to review the county damage assessments, said Fulton County Judge Charles Willett.
The county is filing an emergency proclamation, the fifth proclamation in two years, in an effort to receive reimbursement for the expense of repairing road damage from the heavy rains recently, Willett said.
"Some of (the roads) have had to be completely rebuilt," Willett said. Some dirt roads have been "completely washed out" and require material to be brought back in to rebuild the road, he said. "We still can't cross some of the bridges to see what the complete damage is. We will have no idea until the water goes down."
The Road Department is also preparing mitigation plans for improved stormwater runoff from county roads, but there is only so much that can be done.
"When you have five- or six-inch rains, you are not going to be able to control the damage that they do," Willett said. Some of the low-water concrete slabs have also been washed out because of recent rains.
Two to three people were stranded at a low water bridge on Whippoorwill Road, south of Salem, at about 7:30 p.m. on the evening of Oct. 22, said Walter Dillinger, Fulton County Sheriff.
The creek finally went down after an hour. AGFC pulled the vehicle out of the creek, while the Salem fire department assisted two to three riders crossing the creek back to the road, Dillinger said.
A young couple and six-month-old child drifted 45 to 50 feet downstream in a car from a low-water slab on Flora Cemetery Road, south of Viola, at about 7:30 p.m. on the same evening. The car lodged on a bank at the turn of the creek, Dillinger said.
Dillinger was notified and arrived at the creek at about 7:30 p.m. The Byron and Viola fire departments were on the scene. Within an hour, the rescuers helped the couple cross the creek with a rope. Amy Rucker, Viola Fire Department volunteer, retrieved the six-month-old from the car, Dillinger said.
The flood plain next to the creek was also underwater, he said.
"They've really got to be careful, because these creeks can come up so quick," Dillinger said. "You never know if they are washed out more than normally. I wouldn't advise anyone to pull into any water on a slab." Dillinger commended all involved in the creek rescues.