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Crews prepare for flooding by reinforcing levees along Arkansas River

Using the 2019 floods as a reminder, crews are reinforcing levees along the Arkansas River in preparation for potential damage that could be sustained.

PERRY COUNTY, Ark. — Spring of 2019 was difficult for Jason Trantina, the owner of Toad Suck One Stop, whose store is literally just feet from the banks of the Arkansas River.

"2019 was a bad year, the store was four feet underwater" Trantina said. 

It's a tough memory for those in Perry County who live along the stretch of the Arkansas River, but it also acts also a reminder.

"Having land and stores along the Arkansas River, flooding can happen," Trantina said.

As flooding concerns are rising, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on full alert.

"So right now here at Toad Suck we're at 234,000 cubic feet per second at the river behind us," said Jay Townsend, who works with the U.S. Army Corps. 

The water levels now are lower than it was in 2019, where waters then surpassed 500,000 cubic feet per second.

2019 was of extreme concern, but despite that, there's still plenty to be cautious about now. Small watercrafts are discouraged from being on the water after it reaches 70,000 cubic feet per second.

"In 2019 the flows would have been higher than me in Toad Suck park," Townsend said. 

"It would be up into some of these picnic canopies," he continued as he gestured to the canopies whose roofs are feet above his head.

The U.S. Army Corps have been working on the Perry County Levee, a three-mile hill of dirt, since late Thursday night.

"We have a lot of experienced flood fighters," Townsend said. 

"We can always use 2019 as a benchmark. We can look and see what 500,000 cubic feet is, but we also watched it rise."

"2019 was really emotional," Trantina said. 

"A lot of it was unexpected. This one, if it comes again, we know what to do."

Homes and businesses reside just past Toad Suck Park.

While it can be a daunting task to stop something as powerful as the Arkansas River, Townsend states that the stores and homes that reside near the bank of river are the reason why he and his crew try so hard.

"Our people live and work here too, within 10, 15, 20 miles of this location," Townsend said. 

"We take pride in our work. If we can fight this flood, we're going to figure out a way how and we think we've done that by putting in those setback levees all along Perry County."

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