Jefferson County businesses prepare for historic flooding

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The Arkansas River continues to reach record-breaking levels.

Many people and businesses across Central Arkansas are preparing for the flood.

Thomas Groceries and Gift Shop in Pine Bluff is putting sandbags around their store.

The mayor came and visited the business Saturday morning to give them a head ups.

Dozens of people from the community and nearby churches came help out.

Thomas Groceries and Gift Store on University Drive is a hidden gem in Pine Bluff.

“A lot of people that work over in the industrial park they come here and students from UAPB as well,” Thomas said.

The business now looks like a fort, protecting itself from Arkansas River floodwaters.

“We started getting things off the floor before it gets wet,” Thomas said.

People surrounded the parking lot Saturday filling dozens of sandbags.

“We just try to stop it from getting into the building,” Thomas said.

The shop sits right next to a drainage ditch. Owner Clyde Thomas says it’s connected to Lake Saracen.

“That used to be part of the Arkansas River back in 2007. When lake Saracen fills up it’s going to come back this way,” Thomas said.

It’s something frightening to Thomas.

“You could lose everything you got I guess that can be scary,” Thomas said.

He’s hoping his business of 14 years stands strong.

“This is probably a 500-year flood I won’t use a hundred-year flood because we’ve had that before,” Thomas said.

For now, they’re leaning on faith.

“We just do what we can and there is always tomorrow. Tomorrow’s may be a better day,” Thomas said.

They can’t predict the future, but they’re praying for the best.

“Very concerned we both are we both put our life blood in this store. Just hate to lose it, Thomas said.”

Thomas says the floodwater is expected to hit in the next 24 hours.

Several other businesses and hundreds of homes in Jefferson County are under a mandatory evacuation.

An emergency shelter is open in Pine Bluff at Seabrook (6808 S Hazel Street). Family Church on Poplar Street in Pine Bluff is now the backup shelter. The Wright Pastoria Volunteer Fire Department in Wright (8599 AR-256, Wright) and the Swan Lake Volunteer Fire Department (11997 South Highway 88, Altheimer) in the Swan Lake Community are also open as emergency shelters in the county. Residents in evacuated areas should be sure to take essential items such as medicines, special food items, baby items, batteries, phone chargers, clothing, bedding, money, documents, valuables and anything needed to keep comfortable for the duration of the flood danger which is likely to last at least two weeks. Make sure to secure your home before leaving.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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