Mayflower Oil Spill, Two Years Later

MAYFLOWER, AR — Sunday, March 29, 2015 marked two years since thousands of barrels of crude oil spilled in to the town of Mayflower after an Exxon Mobil pipeline burst.

The spill forced 22 families to evacuate. Many did not go back. A few families who did said they believed their Northwoods neighborhood was still a great place to raise a family and they hoped potential homeowners would realize that soon.

Roger Stegall and his wife Kathy were on a cruise when they saw on the news that oil spilled onto a street near their home. They said it was sad to return home and see neighbors move out one by one over time.

“It’s just a ghost town,” he said. “When we moved in this neighborhood, it was a well-established neighborhood, good families and it’s not now.”

Stegall said the spill had ruined his neighborhood’s good reputation with prospective homeowners.

“Questions asked like, ‘is the pipeline still in operation? Is it going to be? Are they going to shut it down?'”

The oil’s mess and odor were gone, but he said their negative impact on property value and home sales still lingered.

More than thirty houses remained unclaimed. Stegall said over the last two years, about five were sold.

One of them was sold to Virginia Ausbrooks, whose Mayflower home was taken out by a tornado last April. She wasn’t turned off by the spill.

“Because they hauled all the dirt out, like I said, and put new inside of it and we have planted flowers girl, outside and it hadn’t hurt em’ a bit,” Ausbrooks said.

Stegall said he understood why many homeowners never came back after evacuations. He said he was not planning to move because he loved the neighborhood where he and his wife chose to retire and was sticking with it.

“It’d be different if I was working, I guess, but we’re on a fixed income now and we’re just kind of stuck here.”

Leah Uko contributed to this report. To follow story coverage with Leah Uko on Facebook click here. To follow story updates with Leah Uko on Twitter click here.

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