LITTLE ROCK — Floodwaters were receding in the Pocahontas area in Randolph County on Thursday and some people were able to return to their homes after evacuations were ordered earlier in the week, according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Talking to reporters after attending the finals of the Governor’s All-State Coding Competition in Little Rock, Hutchinson said officials were watching to see how levee breaches in Randolph County would affect Lawrence County.
“The last word I have is that it’s receding some in the Pocahontas area and that we’re watching it very closely in Lawrence County, which is the worry. The good news is that we didn’t have the same level of rains as what we anticipated, and so we got a little bit of a break there,” he said.
Nine levee breaches, three of them major, occurred on the Black River near Pocahontas on Wednesday. Hutchinson announced Wednesday that 108 Arkansas National Guard members and 23 Arkansas State Police personnel had been deployed to northeast Arkansas to respond to the flooding.
Hutchinson said Thursday he had not deployed any additional resources to the area.
“There’s a couple of areas that the evacuation order has ended and they’re able to go back into their homes,” he said. “That’s not all across the board, but that allows us then to redeploy some of the National Guard assets in other places. I think that’s good news at this point. We continue to monitor it.”
Hutchinson said it will take some time to assess the damage.
“Once the water starts receding then we look at the damage assessment, which is a critical next step,” he said. “We already know that there’s significant damage both to businesses … some of them uninsured, in addition to the individual homes that have been flooded. You’ve got the costs to the community. But then the farmland is what takes a longer time to assess because you’ve got crop loss that’s at different stages and it takes time to measure that.”
Hutchinson said he had “no doubt” that a federal disaster declaration would be issued eventually for the affected counties.