CONWAY, Ark. – One day after extensive storms hit most of Arkansas, portions of downtown Conway are still waiting to dry out following flash floods.
Many businesses were flooded when heavy rains turned roadways into rivers, with some having to close the following day to air out and work on repairs. Most were able to reopen, just without their entry mats or rugs. Sandbags were also left next to many Oak Street businesses’ doors as the forecast calls for two more days of severe weather.
But although Tuesday saw the downtown area looking a bit drier, Monday night was a different story.
Longtime Conway resident Jake Schichtl was headed to the gym when he literally ran into trouble. After turning onto Dave Ward Drive, he found the roadway flooded and cars stalled out in the middle of the street.
“I just saw water and cars everywhere,” he said. With a large truck of his own, he immediately sprang into action, blocking the intersection to prevent more cars from driving into the water and ferrying people out.
“There were some families I would load up in my truck and I drove them to places where they could get picked up,” Schichtl said.
Across town, Jeremy Hess was driving into a similar problem, headed home from work as heavy rain turned historic Downtown Conway into riverfront property.
“It was pretty wild,” Hess remembered of the water. “I came up through this little intersection right here [on Oak Street] and [the water] was all the way up to the bushes about a foot, foot and a half deep right here.”
As the storm pushed water into businesses, Hess was doing all he could to keep going and not get suck. He explained, “if I didn’t have that lift kit on the Jeep, I might have not made it through.”
A representative of the City of Conway says while flooding isn’t anything new, this particular event was unique. The level of the water and the speed with which it rose caught many people off guard, with the entire flood starting and ending in just about 20 minutes.
He says there was no major damage from the water, but barricades will be put up on standby Tuesday night in case of another incident to prevent cars from driving through once more. Sandbags will also be packed and made available at the transportation and fire departments for those looking to block up their businesses or home.
The best advice he can give is simply stay out of the rain – turn around, don’t drown.