River Valley Flooding: One year later — the strength & resilience of Fort Smith

KNWA

"All you see is your home underwater and you're thinking, 'How am I ever going to replace this?"

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — All week KNWA/KFTA has brought you stories looking back at the historic Arkansas River flooding that happened one year ago, and this time we’re showing you the strength and resilience of two Fort Smith residents.

COURTESY OF KIMBERLY WIENEKE

It’s looking up compared to last time we talked.

LAKIA DALE, ARKANSAS RIVER FLOODING VICTIM

Almost exactly a year ago, we introduced you to Lakia Dale — a single mother-of-two who lost her home to the River Valley flooding after paying thousands of dollars in renovations.

“We remodeled the master bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, and the bathroom,” Dale said.

We painted the walls blue. My mom’s flooring was the same as mine.

RAYLYNN DALE, LAKIA’S DAUGHTER

It’s been an extremely hard year for her and her family.

“I lost my job during the flood,” she said. “I went through a divorce at the same time.”

But now there seems to finally be a light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’re getting really close to being able to move back in,” Dale said. “It’s just a few cosmetic things.”

COURTESY OF KIMBERLY WIENEKE

Last year, we also introduced you to Kimberly Wieneke — a foster mom whose home was destroyed by floodwaters.

“We lost toddler beds, baby beds,” Wieneke said. “We had tons of toys.”

The Wienekes are back in their home, but the traumatic event from the flood still affects them to this day.

We are all on pins and needles because we don’t know what’s going to happen this year.

KIMBERLY WIENEKE, ARKANSAS RIVER FLOODING

These two women have different stories, but their commonalities are the very things that kept them carrying on throughout the year.

“All you see is your home underwater and you’re thinking, ‘How am I ever going to replace this?” Wieneke said.

The important things like family and a sense of community.

“I remember when it all happened, my daughter looked at me and she said, ‘Momma, it’s going to be okay, at least we have each other,’” Dale said. “That’s what really matters.”

“Ya know what, [Fort Smith] is a great community,” Wieneke said. “If you’re in need, this is the place to be because the people here will step right up and help you.”

All of this proving true…

“People are out of their homes, and now you have this whole coronavirus stuff,” Wieneke said. “I mean this is crazy, everyone is hurting and everyone is in a hard situation.”

No natural disaster or even pandemic can bring them down.

“We made it this time and we’ll make it again,” Dale said. “We just got to stay strong.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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