NASHVILLE, Ark.—Flash Flooding ravaged most of Howard County in Southwest Arkansas early Tuesday, resulting in numerous water rescues and considerable damage to structures including Nashville's Police Station and the Howard County jail.
"It's early still, but we're going place to place assessing damage and it hit us pretty hard," said Nashville Mayor Billy Ray Jones.Gallery: Southwest Arkansas Flooding
"Water was 4 feet deep in the police station. There were logs, mud and trash and everything else floating by. All of the computers are gone," Jones said. "It's just a mess."
No injuries or fatalities had been reported at presstime.
Hempstead County, Nevada County and Pike County all had significant flooding and many road closures. Police were advising residents to travel only if absolutely necessary and to not drive through flooded areas.
The National Weather Service declared a flash flood emergency for southern Pike and Clark counties shortly before 5 a.m. Tuesday.
At 5:48 a.m., the emergency was expanded for much of southwestern Arkansas, where more than 10 inches of rain had fallen in some places. About 10 a.m., a flash flood emergency was enacted for Howard, Northern Hempstead and Northern Nevada counties.
Howard County Emergency Management Coordinator Jay Witherspoon said floodwaters were higher than he had ever seen.
He said there were conflicting reports of how much rain the area received, but he had heard one location in Dierks received 16 inches.
Inmates from the Howard County jail were evacuated Tuesday afternoon. Seven inmates were bused to Arkansas Department of Corrections while the rest were bused to Sevier County jail in De Queen.
Arkansas State Police assisted with the transfer.
An east-to-west band of heavy rain set up near Nashville shortly before midnight, according to the National Weather Service in Shreveport, La. Significant flooding was reported from Dierks to Nashville to Blevins and Prescott.
NWS reported 11.98 inches of rain was recorded 3 miles south of Dierks at 2:51 p.m.
The NWS also reported 8.47 inches of water 1 mile northwest of Nashville at 2:57 p.m. and 8.74 inches 1 mile northwest of Prescott at 3:20 p.m. There could easily have been higher amounts in isolated areas, said Mario Valverde, with the NWS.
"This was the remnants of Barry. It was slow moving and extended pretty far north," Valverde said. Much of Southwest Arkansas, was under a flash flood warning during the night.
Chris Buonanno, science and operations officer with the weather service in North Little Rock, said a "tremendous" amount of rain fell overnight. He noted that radar estimates showed more than a foot in parts of Southwest Arkansas.
Several counties requested assistance from the state, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Barbara Hager said. Howard County Judge Kevin Smith requested deployment of the Arkansas National Guard High Water Team.
Numerous water rescues occurred in the early morning hours. Nashville resident Kay Burk said she pulled four vehicles out of the water with her Silverado pickup.
"I've got a big truck and I wanted to help," she said. She started about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and was still helping stranded motorists in the afternoon.
Traffic was backed up 10 miles along portions of Interstate 30 Tuesday morning as high water closures along the interstate and other highways in Arkansas caused delays, diverted traffic and trapped drivers stuck between closures.
The backup occurred in the westbound lanes of I-30 near Prescott, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Danny Straessle. Department of Transportation officials worked to free drivers snared between the two major closures on I-30: in Nevada County north of Prescott and in Clark County near Gurdon, Straessle said.
As the water receded enough to allow westbound traffic to traverse the inside lanes near Prescott, passenger vehicles were turned around and led out as safely as possible, he said. Crews then went through the area between the closures, conducting health and welfare checks and distributing water, snacks and other useful items.
More than a dozen portions of highways in Arkansas were closed at noon, according to the department.
By about noon Interstate 30 in Southwest Arkansas had reopened in both directions. Officials closed the University of Arkansas campuses in Hope and Texarkana on Tuesday due to the severe flooding and related road closures.
Nashville residents Stan Reeder and Larry Couch left their homes around 7 a.m to check on their church, First Christian Church on Highway 271 after Couch saw photos on flooding on Facebook.
The men found water up the electric outlets in the church and believe a piano and organ may have been damaged.
"I've never seen it this high before," Couch said.
The Nashville Cemetery across from the police station was mostly under water and two vehicles sat mostly submerged right outside it.
"It's a mess," Reeder said.
As the water went down Tuesday afternoon, Jones and other officials with Nashville City Hall and Police Department removed soggy, damaged items from City Hall and the police department.
"The problem is you don't shut a police station down. We have got to get them back to work. They can't stay here," Jones said. "It's starting to recede. We've just got to figure out how to put it back together," Jones said.
(Reporters for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette contributed to this story.)