NASHVILLE, Ark.—It's been business as usual in Nashville, Ark., this week despite Tuesday morning's flash flood leaving several inches of water inside the police station, the sheriff's office and part of city hall.
"We have kept everything running as far as police and fire protection," said Mayor Billy Ray Jones. Fans blew in Jones' office and other parts of city hall, in an effort to dry things out. A faint musty smell hung in the air.
"We've been tearing carpet out, laying the floor coverings back. The main thing is treating everything for mold before it becomes an issue," Jones said.
Official hope to have a total cost of the damage soon and will then wait to hear back about state and federal aid.
"We are putting things back together, not knowing if or when we will get any emergency funds," Jones said. "But there are things we have to do right now. We have had to tear walls out because we couldn't let them sit and mildew," he said.
Neither the city of Nashville or Howard County has flood insurance.
Flash flooding ravaged most of Howard County in Southwest Arkansas early Tuesday, resulting in numerous water rescues and considerable damage to the buildings on Highway 271.
An east-to-west band of heavy rain set up near Nashville shortly before midnight Tuesday, 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. On Wednesday, NWS received information from a weather observer that 16.7 inches had fallen in a 24-hour period.
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.
The Nashville Police Department received the worst damage with four feet of water inside it. The police chief and some officers are now working out of city hall. In the nearby Howard County jail, the inmates have been moved to neighboring Sevier County so repairs can be made.
"Myself and all of my staff have become carpenters and construction workers," said Sheriff Brian McJunkins. "We started that day, pulling up carpet and everything. We are trimming the sheet rock for black mold issues. It is dry in here but it's down to concrete."
Meanwhile, work doesn't stop.
"We are functioning," McJunkins said. "Deputies are answering calls and serving paperwork. It's business as normal, just inconvenient." The inmates will probably be moved back one day this week.
Most county roads are expected to be passable by this weekend except for a few where the bridges are closed, said Howard County Judge Kevin Smith. About 60 roads in the county were washed out in places while 16 roads were completely cut in two, Smith said. Several bridges need repaired or replaced.
"The cost is going to add up fast," Smith said.
At City Hall, Public Works Director Larry Dunaway said things have been busy.
"We are getting estimates and going through the FEMA red tape," Dunaway said.
No city streets in Nashville were washed out though water was over several of them. Two bridges need repaired.
"We are trying to determine what action to take to fix them," Dunaway said.
The city will also need to purchase several new police cars after 13 of the department's vehicles were totaled in the flood.
Many of the firefighters lost their personal vehicles when they parked them near the station. Water rose quickly while the firefighters were out on call and they returned to find their personal vehicles damaged.
Jones hopes there might be some funding available to help the firefighters out.
"These are all our people. Our local people who were called out on rescue calls," he said.
In the Nashville Cemetery, near the fire station, several headstones from the 1800s had toppled over. Jones said the cemetery flooded before in the 1980s and he knows someone who can hopefully get the monuments back up.
Cleanup efforts are also underway in the city of Dierks, north of Nashville. The flash flood took out fences at the park, damaged the walking track and even flipped a concrete dugout.
The park is the location for the annual Pine Tree Festival scheduled for August 2-3. But it will need a lot of work before the event. Volunteers are meeting at the park today to help get it back in shape.
In Nashville, both Jones and Smith commented the quickly rising flood reminded them of the flood at Camp Albert Pike several years ago.
"But thankfully, we had no loss of life," Jones said. "And everything has gone pretty smoothly. The community has pulled together in a big way."
The buildings that flooded the worst in Nashville have never flooded before.
"Nobody has seen anything like this," Smith said. "But it's Mother Nature and she's hard to control."