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2011 flooding worst ever for Arkansas roads

The floods of 2011. They might not be over, but from the State Highway Department's perspective -- they haven't just been bad, they're already the worst.
The floods of 2011. They might not be over, but from the State Highway Department's perspective -- they haven't just been bad, they're already the worst.

"Absolutely the worst I've seen," said Randy Ort of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.

82 sections of highways closed in the state including parts of I-40 when there'd never been more than 50 sections closed at any other time. As of Tuesday afternoon, 27 sections of highways remained closed.

Before the 2011 floods, the Highway Department had never set up an emergency call center before either.

"We took just shy of 15,000 phone calls during that six day period of time," said Ort. "If you factor it in, that's one call every 15 seconds on 12 phone lines."

Damage estimates for the state's highways are in the tens of millions of dollars just because of the flooding. Then you have to tack on another 12 million for a record year of snow.

"We're gonna do whatever we have to do to keep the roadways open and safe," said Ort. "Will that put a strain on our budget? Absolutely it will."

And now we could get flash floods which Ort says could actually be worse for roads and bridges than the river flooding we've already seen.

"Problem with flash flooding is it's often times moving water," he said. "Sometimes very swiftly moving water, and moving water has the potential to do more damage."
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