Farmers race to protect land, rice worth millions before predicted ‘historic’ flood

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In the blistering sun, farmers work to protect everything they’ve built.

“We don’t want anymore water,” says farmer Louis Schmoll. 

On Saturday, farmers in Pope County, near Atkins, were busy building a levee on State Highway 105 near North Shore Drive ahead of anticipated record-breaking flooding.

Schmoll says without the levee so much would be destroyed.

“That grain system down there with the rice mill,” says Schmoll. “There is over a million dollars worth of rice.” 

Before building the levee Saturday, it had to be approved by ARDOT, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Levee Board.

“Part of their emergency action plan actually dictates that they close it when flood waters get up to the levels they are talking about,” says Director of Pope County Office of Emergency Management Justin Drittler.

Drittler says some people near North Shore Drive have been told to evacuate because their homes could become islands come Tuesday. 

The National Weather Service is forecasting the river to crest in Dardanelle at 44 feet by Tuesday, the same historic level set during the great Arkansas River flood of 1943.

“We have another creek that’s back down the road here that’s actually going to enclose several people along the Lucky Landing area,” says Drittler.

Schmoll says he hopes the levee is tall and strong enough.

“It’s growing season. We are already late because of the rain, they don’t need anymore delay and if water comes across here it would set them back another month,” says Schmoll.

As farmers work to save what they can, some say 2019 could go down in history.

“It would devastate their livelihood for the year and as tight as things are maybe forever,” says Schmoll

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