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POCAHONTAS, Ark. – With construction on a new Black River Bridge still underway and only one bridge/two lanes left, the community would be crippled if something happened to the only bridge left.
This unthinkable scenario is a actual worry for Pocahontas Mayor Kary Story.
Currently, traffic is down to one bridge while a second is constructed – replacing the demolished structure last year. On Tuesday afternoon, Story told NEA Report he was “very concerned” about the possibility of the construction barge which has the Arkansas Highway Department’s crane on it coming loose.
If that happens, it would crash into the only direct pathway between west and east Pocahontas – the Black River Bridge.
“The barge with the crane, Judge (David Jansen) went down there on Thursday and told them they need to move it,” Story said. “They weren’t even planning on moving their stuff if it hadn’t been for the judge. We went down there Friday and pleaded with them.”
It’s not that Story thinks it will happen. He said he is worried about the slim, but real, possibility it could happen. He said he was told the barge was secure but every time he has passed it, it looked to him like it could come loose.
The worry mounted so much, he made Governor Asa Hutchinson aware of it as they passed over the bridge during the governor’s survey Tuesday.
“I put it in writing to the highway department in an email,” Story said. “The governor is aware of it and when we come across the bridge, I told him what I did.”
When asked what would happen in the nightmare scenario of something happening to the current bridge, Story said the governor alluded to the Federal government coming in, at that stage, with military construction engineers to make an emergency fix.
Hopes are it will never reach that point.
The situation in Pocahontas has reached such a dire condition that the town is almost cut off from the outside world in all directions. Highway 67 from Walnut Ridge was impeded, at least partially, as of Tuesday afternoon. Closure was expected sometime Tuesday. Highway 67 North to Biggers was cut off, as well. Highway 90 is showing issues on IDriveArkansas.com as of Tuesday afternoon and even Highway 62 West is showing problems near Mill Creek.
The Army National Guard is now deployed in Pocahontas, Story has said, along with Arkansas State Police. Around 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Pocahontas mayor finished a meeting with emergency responders to help organize tasks, responsibilities and radio traffic. Major flooding in east Pocahontas has forced the relocation of Randolph County dispatch to the Sandhill Fire Department in west Pocahontas.
Not only is the Robil Addition dealing with epic flooding but other areas of east Pocahontas are seeing rare levels of flooding, too. Old County Road, running off of Highway 67 by Walmart, is flooded and homes are seeing water at the doors and beyond.
This video, taken by Pocahontas resident Bryce Decker, shows the businesses and homes affected by flood waters still forecast to rise several feet from when this was shot.