Historic River Flooding Devastates Communities Across Arkansas

Historic River Flooding Devastates Communities Across Arkansas

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

In late May 2019, the Arkansas River rose to historically high levels due to heavy rainfall and the release of swollen reservoirs upstream in neighboring Kansas and Oklahoma.

In many parts of the state, decades-old river records were broken, including a 1945 record set in Van Buren, and a Morrilton record from 1927.

The Arkansas River at Fort Smith crested at nearly 41 feet, almost 10 feet above flood stage, displacing families and businesses along the Arkansas River Valley. Nearly 500 homes were flooded in Fort Smith alone, and even more homes were affected in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and further downstream in Pendleton, Arkansas.

The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Disaster Response team worked with local emergency response officials to find people who were in need of help, and work to “muck out” the damaged portions of their homes.

In total, more than 250 volunteers have signed up to assist families and individuals with “mucking out” their homes. Mucking out is the process of tearing out carpeting, sheetrock and other parts of a home damaged by water that has entered a building.

Disaster Response volunteers in Fort Smith. From left to right, Les Oliver, Alan Yount, Gary Reigel, Jane Oliver, Judith Vining, Rob Vining, Shelley Lee, Roy Lee, Ken Savells, George Graham, and homeowner Keith Reese. Not pictured: Amy Bradshaw, Don Bradshaw, and Linda Ray.

Even though turnout has been good, Byron Mann, Arkansas Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, said they are needing additional volunteers to sign up for training days and help muck out the hundreds of homes still in need of clean up. To sign up to volunteer, visit www.eiseverywhere.com/volunteersignup.

They are also hoping to continue raising money that will be used to assist people in rebuilding their lives once the cleanup process is complete. The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church has raised $15,000 in donations since late May. Mann hopes to continue receiving donations to reach their goal of $100,000.

Volunteers with the Arkansas Conference Disaster Response team “muck out” the home of Keith Reeves in Fort Smith. The carpet, as well as soggy portions of the sheet rock, must be torn out and thrown away before repairs can occur. || Photo by Christina Choh

“This is a long-term process and by the end of it, we hope to have touched hundreds of lives by assisting in the cleanup process,” Mann said.
To donate online, visit bit.ly/arumc-donate and select the first box, “Arkansas Disaster Relief,” to give to families affected by the Arkansas River flood.

When Communities Come Together

When Communities Come Together

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

This past month has really gotten me thinking about the importance of community.

As many of you are aware, Arkansas was hit with a number of natural disasters in June: from the Arkansas River flooding that displaced thousands of people to heavy rains, high winds, and tornado damage that made an already bad situation even worse, this has been a rough time to be an Arkansan.

But despite all of the devastation that we faced in the state, I was encouraged and proud to see so many people step up, step out and ask their neighbors, “What do you need? I can help.”

Our Disaster Response team, led by Byron and Janice Mann, have been working hard since day one to assist communities affected by high flood waters. They’ve assembled volunteers from across the state who are willing to help “muck out” homes, save homeowners thousands of dollars, and try to get them back to a state of normality a little bit quicker.

Arkansans have given generously of their time and money, raising more than $15,000 so far for flood victims.

As Bishop Mueller highlighted in his Episcopal Address, we need to “double down” on our mission work. As we’ve seen this month, Arkansans are really taking that challenge to heart.

In this issue, we highlight the work that a team of volunteers began in Fort Smith, one of the hardest hit areas by the Arkansas River flood. Volunteers from Northwest Arkansas, as well as United Methodist Churches in the city, worked together to improve and rebuild the lives of their neighbors.

We also showcase the work of another volunteer mission group, the Ozark Mission Project. Every year, this group of youth and young adults travels to all corners of the state to repair homes, build wheelchair ramps for elderly and disabled Arkansans, and learn that working together to improve the lives of people in your community is one of the best ways to show the abundant love of Christ to the world.

There are other stories of community-building as well, such as the work that Alma and Kibler UMC are doing in their small town to building community events for the whole city, and the work of the Adona – Wye Mountain UMC home repair mission that makes homes safe for residents of their small community.

There are countless other examples of Arkansas Methodists doing good work in their own communities, and that makes me proud to be a part of this wonderful church.

I encourage you all to get out into your own communities, get to know your neighbors and be the hands and feet of Christ for anyone and everyone you can.

Arkansas Conference Disaster Response, AR VOAD give updated numbers on Arkansas River Flood response

Arkansas Conference Disaster Response, AR VOAD give updated numbers on Arkansas River Flood response

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Disaster Response team, as well as the Arkansas chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), are continuing their efforts to assist families and homes affected by the historic Arkansas River flood of 2019.

So far, there have been nine volunteer training days held across the state in areas most affected by the flooding. Some of these areas include Dardanelle, Conway, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Monticello, Dumas, and Batesville.

In total, more than 250 volunteers have signed up to assist families and individuals with “mucking out” their homes. Mucking out is the process of tearing out carpeting, sheetrock and other parts of a home damaged by water that has entered a building.

“There are still areas we haven’t been able to get into yet,” said Byron Mann, Arkansas Conference Disaster Response Co-Coordinator.

Mann estimates that with the help of Arkansas Disaster Relief volunteers, they are saving homeowners anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 in clean out costs. This is only a fraction of the cost of rebuilding a damaged home, but any opportunity to save the homeowner money can make a big difference.

Even though turnout has been good, Mann said they are needing additional volunteers to sign up for training days and help muck out the hundreds of homes still in need of clean up. To sign up to volunteer, visit www.eiseverywhere.com/volunteersignup.

They are also hoping to continue raising money that will be used to assist people in rebuilding their lives once the clean up process is complete. The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church has raised $15,000 in donations since late May. Mann hopes to continue receiving donations to reach their goal of $100,000.

“This is a long-term process and by the end of it, we hope to have touched hundreds of lives by assisting in the cleanup process,” Mann said.

To donate online, visit bit.ly/arumc-donate and select the first box, “Arkansas Disaster Relief,” to give to families affected by the Arkansas River flood.