• Today
    August 20

  • 01:46 PM

Flood kills 18

Andrew Browne, webmaster@nationnews.com

Added 13 June 2010

flooded

OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST - Some people awoke to roaring floodwaters. Others were roused by panicked banging on their cabin doors. At least a few got out of bed and were plunged almost immediately into deep, churning water. Vacationing families camped in a remote Arkansas valley had only a moment or two in the darkness to escape from the worst flood to hit this area in nearly 30 years. For at least 18 people, it wasn't enough. The deadly wall of water that rushed through a region southwest of Little Rock struck with such force that witnesses could hear trees being ripped apart and lumber buckling in homes that had been smashed. Terry Whatley was staying at the Albert Pike Recreation Area with a group of about 35 friends and relatives. Around 3:30 a.m. Friday, someone pounded on the door of his camper to warn of the rising water. He gathered everyone and got out into ankle-deep water. Soon it rose up to their chests as they tried to reach higher ground. "I just started thinking to myself, 'This is a bad way to die,'" said Whatley, whose group included three people who were confirmed killed in the flash flood. The raging floodwaters killed at least 18 people before dawn Friday and left in their wake a path of destruction marked by cars hurled into trees, heavily damaged or destroyed cabins, even pavement that had been peeled off roads and bark off trees. Vacationers were drawn by the campground's rustic landscape: a lush valley ringed with mountains on the southern edge of the Ouachita National Forest. But by early Friday, heavy rains had turned the Caddo and Little Missouri rivers into lethal torrents. In seconds, survivors had to decide how to save their lives and their loved ones. Some clung to trees or climbed on top of cars bobbing like boats in the swift current. (AP)

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