Albert Pike Recreation Area Flood of 2010

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(update 6/13/10)

Nelson Cameron reports on the email list:

Just talked to John Carter, owner of Arrowhead Canoes on the Caddo River.  He told me no one hurt there.  But had some heavy damage:  6 feet of water in his bunk house, its on a rise/small hill.    3 cabins out of use due to high water/mud.  He lost a lot of paddles and a few pic nic tables.  He said he thought he could repair the damage and find his lost gear.   And of course his business is down.  Just thought you might want to know.  


(update 6/12/10)

Mike White reported on the email list:

Just a note to let you all know that I talked with JD Lybrand this morning while he was in the Valley.  The only thing JD had to add to Joe Diffie's email of yesterday, was that besides the debris in the swimming hole, additional gravel had washed into the upper end.

Larry intends to be in the Valley early this coming week, so we should have more info at that time.   Many of our long time landmarks along the Caddo, such as Arrowhead Campgrounds & Canoes, were as you can imagine severely impacted.

Please keep all the families impacted by the disaster in Montgomery and Pike counties in your thoughts and prayers.



(Original postings follow with later news reports at the bottom)

A devastating flash flood hit the area on June 11, 2010. Many lives were lost.  This article will chronicle some of the news reports and furnish some informational links. The good news for the Valley is that all is apparently well according to this report Friday afternoon from Floss Diffie via the family email list:

Joe spoke to JD Lybrand, the builder, there in the valley. He told Joe he could not get into the valley until this afternoon because of the water at the roadway into the valley. He did go into the valley and found everything in tact. He said the water (judged by the leaves) had gotten up to the cook shack. So all is okay there.

Spencer Cubage earlier had reported that "J.D. tried to get into the valley this morning, but the creek from the Bean cabins was over our road….he will attempt to go back this afternoon.  I got this info from Ken Ellis, whom is in touch with J.D."

Possibly in response to expressed concerns about the Valley, Everett (Buddy) Carnes explained as follows:

I'm a thousand miles from the Valley and we need rain. Why the news of the flood was headlined "Cado (sic) Gap, Ark" I don't know. Maybe it proves that  folks from western Arkansas know more about the world than the world knows about western Arkansas. Apparently the rain that caused the flood was nearer the capital of Oklahoma than the capital of Arkansas. Of course all that flood water will have to flow though the Gap of the Caddo but don't see how it can possibly get into the Valley. Now that much rain up the Valley would cause a problem!  That is why chunks of the dam are scattered as they are. I predict a beautiful Fourth of July and us still needing rain. Have a great time at the reunion. Wish I could be here.


Click here for links to many videos of the flooding.

River gauge at Caddo Gap

 Assorted News stories copied here for posterity


Arkansas Flooding 2010 – Death Toll at Least 20 in Caddo Gap

Arkansas Flooding 2010 – Death Toll at Least 20.  Early this morning, campers in Caddo Gap, Arkansas were surprised by flash flooding.  Heavy rains in the area caused the Little Missouri and Caddo Rivers to overflow, catching unsuspecting campers off guard.

The Caddo Gap flash flooding was so severe that it swept away many of the campers that were sleeping along the banks of the river. The area where the campers were located is remote, with no cellular service.  The campers had no advanced warning of the incoming flash floods.

At the time the flooding occurred, officials say there were approximately 300 campers staying on the riverside.  Of those 300 campers, 20 have been confirmed dead, and officials say that approximately 40 are still missing.

Officials are still searching for the missing campers, and remain optimistic.  Throughout the day, they have found some survivors, and they hope to find some of the remaining 40 before the sun sets.

President Obama has also announced that he’s instructed FEMA to stay in close contact with Arkansas Emergency Management and to provide any assistance needed with this 2010 Arkansas flooding.


Caddo Gap Arkansas Floods – Albert Pike Campground Floods, 20 People Confirmed Dead

 Sandra Treece  June 11, 2010

Caddo Gap Arkansas Floods – Albert Pike Campground Floods, 20 People Confirmed Dead. Heavy rains in Arkansas caused the Little Missouri and Caddo rivers to quickly exceed their banks and flood surrounding campgrounds early this morning.  Officials say a storm system that marched through the state this morning brought with it large amounts of rain in a short period of time.

On the banks of the Little Missouri river, approximately 300 campers were sleeping when the flash flood occured.  The campground was not normally patrolled and communications were spotty in that area.

A major search-and-rescue operation is underway right now in an attempt to find approximately 40 missing campers.  There have been survivors located by teams that include state troopers, forest rangers, and the public.  Unfortunately, the death toll is rising with new reports of 20 people confirmed dead.

Reports that the Albert Pike campground was the most heavily effected area.  This campground is in the Ouachita National Forest.  It is a very popular spot for people who want to “get away from it all.”

We will continue to follow the Caddo Gap, Arkansas / Albert Pike Campground flooding story and provide updates as they become available.


Police Narrow Arkansas Flood Search to 3 Missing

(Fox News 6/13/2010 -- Published June 13, 2010 

 | Associated Press)

 Crews got to work Sunday looking for bodies in the many piles of debris that collected after a flash flood swept through a popular campground, as police drastically cut their search to just three missing campers.

LANGLEY, Ark. -- Crews got to work Sunday looking for bodies in the many piles of debris that collected after a flash flood swept through a popular campground, as police drastically cut their search to just three missing campers.

Authorities haven't been able to contact some of the nearly two dozen people who hadn't been accounted for Saturday, but they don't believe those people were in the Albert Pike Recreation Area, the section of the Ouachita National Forest hardest hit by flooding, State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said.

He said those people are likely camping elsewhere in Arkansas, and that's why they haven't been reachable.

"Typically when people go on vacation or camping trips, they want to turn those cell phones off," Sadler said. "That's the reason they're on vacation."

The number of missing has varied wildly since the floods hit partially because authorities have struggled to figure out exactly who was in the campground. Cell phone service is poor in the area, and authorities fielded calls about at least 73 people who couldn't be reached after the pre-dawn Friday flood that killed at least 18 people. A register that would have showed who was staying at the campground was washed away.

Crews have searched most of the 20-mile area down river of the campground, so they focused their search effort Sunday on clearing the many tangled piles of debris that collected along Little Missouri River.

Hopes of finding anyone else alive wilted in the oppressive heat and humidity that blanketed the area all weekend. Temperatures Sunday were expected to reach 97 degrees.

The group of anxious survivors and relatives who took sanctuary at a church in the nearby town of Lodi while waiting for word of missing loved ones had thinned noticeably on Sunday, when the group was to be taken on a tour of the campground.

Suzanne Horsley, spokeswoman with American Red Cross, said about a dozen people from two families were still staying at the church, but that she didn't know what states the families were from.

Graig Cowart, the pastor who has tended to families all weekend, said he would give an informal sermon at the campground and would read a verse from the Book of Romans that conveys the message that everything comes together for God's good. He said the message could help them in the difficult days ahead.

"You want people to escape for a moment and focus on God, but they're going to return to the reality of what they're here for," Cowart said.

The last time someone was found alive was late Friday morning. Only two bodies were found Saturday as swollen rivers subsided and anguished relatives awaiting word of loved ones grew more and more frustrated, knowing that at some point the search mission would become one of recovery.

"They're just devastated. The time for shock has probably gone and now it's just anxiety building. They're beginning to fear the worst," Cowart said.

Five of the 15 victims identified, including three young children, were from a single Louisiana town, Gloster. Three other victims also were from Louisiana, and six were from Texas.

The only Arkansas victim identified was Leslie Jez, a 23-year-old mother and wife from Foreman whose husband, Adam Jez, was listed among the flood's survivors.

"So ready to go camping this weekend," she wrote on her Facebook page Monday. "Kaden is going to love it!!" She later added: "Not looking foward to that cold water, but sounds like I might change my mind after seeing how hot it's supposed to be."

Authorities haven't said whether the child survived.

Floodwaters rose as swiftly as 8 feet per hour, pouring through the remote valley with such force that they peeled asphalt from roads and bark off trees. Cabins dotting the river banks were severely damaged, and mobile homes lay on their sides.

Forecasters had warned of the approaching danger in the area during the night, but campers could easily have missed the advisories because the area is isolated.

About 200 searchers combed some 20 miles of wilderness Saturday searching the thick brush and rivers for survivors and bodies. Experts said many of those killed could be trapped under fallen trees and rocks, and that the water likely won't be clear enough to see through for several days.

The last body found Friday night was retrieved 8 miles downstream from the campground, and authorities Saturday combed the headwaters of Lake Greeson, a large body of water about 20 miles from the camp that would be the furthest any of the bodies could travel.

Tom Collins, a Spring Hill volunteer firefighter, said the debris in the water was frustrating their attempts to recover bodies, and that there were so many fallen trees that it looked like a beaver dam.

"It's just a tangled mess," Collins said.

Authorities have vowed to keep searching until all the missing are accounted for.