The Latest: Man found dead in flooded van
FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on severe flooding in Oklahoma and Arkansas (all times local):
Police in Arkansas have pulled a body from a van found submerged in floodwater at Fort Chaffee.
Barling police Officer James Breeden says a dive team was sent about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday after a submerged van was reported at a gate to the Army National Guard post on Arkansas 22. That’s about 8 miles (13 kilometers) southeast of Fort Smith. The divers found the body of a man inside. Barling police Sgt. Keith Lindley says investigators believe the man had driven around a barrier set up on the flooded highway and drove into the floodwater.
Divers are still checking to see if there are any other bodies at the scene.
The death is the first in Arkansas from the flooding from recent heavy rains.
State emergency officials say the Arkansas River has topped two levees in Arkansas, where historic flooding has inundated some communities.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Emergency Management says flood waters overtopped a levee in Toad Suck, a community about 27 miles (43 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the levee protects nearly 300 people.
Department spokeswoman Barbara Hager says officials had warned residents of impending flooding but hadn’t implemented mandatory evacuations. She says the flooding will eventually close state highway 60.
Hager says a second levee near mostly farmland in Paris, Arkansas, was also flooded. The area is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock.
No injuries have been reported.
Widespread flooding is occurring in the area along the Arkansas-Oklahoma border.
Arkansas officials have reopened two bridges over the swollen Arkansas River after the rising water didn’t reach anticipated levels, but they warn that flooding threats remain.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation on Monday closed the bridges in Fort Smith along Interstate 540 and the U.S. 71B. Both bridges reopened around noon Tuesday, but officials noted both could be closed again if flooding conditions change.
Arkansas Transportation Department spokesman Danny Straessle says the bridges carry a combined 71,000 vehicles per day.
Widespread flooding is occurring in the area along the Arkansas-Oklahoma border. The river is expected to crest Wednesday in Van Buren, Arkansas, at more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) above its historic crest, which had occurred in 1945.
State highway officials have closed two bridges over the Arkansas River in Fort Smith as the waterway surges toward a record crest this week.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation says the Interstate 540 and the U.S. 71B bridges were shut down Monday night because of flooding concerns, though the department says both structures remain sound.
Widespread flooding is occurring in the Tulsa area, where severe thunderstorms are also possible Tuesday. In western Arkansas, the river is expected to crest Wednesday in Van Buren at 42.5 feet (13 meters) — or more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) above its historic crest, which had occurred in 1945.
Forecasters say up to 4 inches of rain is possible this week in the waterlogged areas.