Among today’s top stories is yesterday’s sudden flushing of the Little Missouri and Caddo rivers in Arkansas. Flash flooding caused by unusually torrential rains swept through the river course raising the level from a normal of three feet to twenty-three feet in a few hours. Reports from the scene are that at least 7.5 inches of rain fell during a three or four hour period and the river near Caddo Gap rose at the rate of 8.5 feet per hour.
Early Friday, around 2:00 AM the river banks in the Caddo Gap area were crowded with campers in tents and travel trailers out for a weekend in the remote and beautiful Albert Pike Recreation area. Sometime before 5:00 AM, disaster and terror in the form of a massive wall of free falling water struck.
Most people were likely sleeping at that hour and completely unaware of the relentlessly approaching deluge. I can imagine kids in their tents playing with flashlights and giggling in their sleeping bags or bedrolls, too exited to sleep, anticipating the adventures of the day ahead.
As of this writing 17 are confirmed dead with dozens still listed as missing, many of them children.
I witnessed a flash flood many years ago in southeastern Utah. One afternoon in late spring the desert valley I lived and worked in was hit by what we called a “gully washer,” a storm that dumped a surprising amount of rain in a half hour or so as it moved up the red walled valley to the La Sal Mountains looming to the east.