|Updated: 8/17/2010 1:00 pm
||Published: 8/16/2010 12:25 pm
Shoes, clothes and children's toys are just some of the thousands of items lost by victims of the deadly Albert Pike Recreation Area flood. Now many of those lost items are found again.
Starting Monday, survivors are coming back to reclaim keepsakes swept away by the water, but not lost forever.
From all the destructive power of the Albert Pike flashflood, it may seem hard to believe that 3,831 personal items are now recovered and sitting in the Pike County Fairgrounds in Glenwood.
Some of those items belong to Nathan Pugh, 14, of Texarkana, Texas.
My sister gave me this (duffle bag) for Christmas and I was kind of destroyed when I lost it,” Pugh says. “The night of the flood I took everything that I had and put in this bag but I guess the water opened it up and took everything out of it."
The flood waters June 11th took everything in its path, including the lives of 20 people. In the weeks since, The U.S. Forestry Service combed an 11-mile stretch of the Little Missouri River ravaged by flood waters.
There was a lot to look for so the forestry service broke down what they found into six individual zones. The majority of campers were staying in “zone 2” but items were found in all six zones, including some miles 10 miles from camping areas.
Debbie Ugbade, public affairs specialist for the Ozark-St. Francis and Ouachita National Forests, says items were placed by zone on individual tables to make it easier for people who come back to locate them.
"When a family member comes in now, if the recognize an item, they will take this tag, sign it out, it will become theirs and they will claim their property," Ugbade says.
In just a few minutes, Pugh actually finds a lot of the shirts and shorts he lost in the flood. And told me he can't believe what he found when he opened a brown paper sack with his name on it.
"I found all my money, my phone, my wallet here and that was incredible because I didn't think I was going to see this today, but I'm glad I did."
Pugh says coming back brings back mixed feelings all converging at the same time.
"I feel bad about it kind of, you still have a feeling of, I don't know, guilt maybe because we were the ones that made it out," Pugh says.
The forestry service says they know some survivors may never come back, may never want these reminders back of one Arkansas's deadliest natural disasters. But the work to find all the items was well worth it for those who do.
Families who lost loved ones in the flood were allowed to look for keepsakes last week. The property claim will stay open until September 11th. But the forestry service says they will hold the items for at least 90 days.
The items will be in the Crawford Building at the Pike County Fairgrounds, 501 N. First St., in Glenwood.
Forest Service staff will be available at the fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the following dates: Aug. 16-21; Aug. 26-28; Sept. 3-4; and Sept. 10-11.
Area law enforcement personnel will supervise the personal-property identification and reclaiming process at the fairgrounds, Farley said. Recovered items have been kept at an undisclosed site.
Ugbade said the Forest Service has compiled a list of those believed to be camping in the area when the flood hit.
"We are sending out letters and notification, and we'll know who should be there to collect their items," Ugbade said.