FELSENTHAL - After more than 10 inches of rain fell in February, as well as another inch in the last week, the town of Felsenthal is seeing water levels 20 feet above normal and they're not yet receding.
As of Tuesday morning, the Felsenthal water levels were at 83.3 feet above sea level, nearly 20 feet above the normal water level of 65 feet, said Felsenthal Mayor Linda Newbury.
A multitude of rivers and lakes, including the Ouachita River at the Felsenthal lock and dam, make up the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, and the highest water level ever recorded was 88.3 feet in 1945.
In November 2009, the fourth highest water levels were recorded at around 86 feet, and Newbury said the town is anticipating the the water to continue to rise to that level.
“We’re told that it will crest on Thursday, meaning that’s the highest it will be,” Newbury said.
The rate that the water falls will depend on different factors, including how much water is coming into Felsenthal from other connecting rivers. Newbury said the water levels in Camden are beginning to go down, as well as everything south of Felsenthal.
“That means we have a lot of room for the water to go,” she said. “Just from experience, we’re hoping that it will go down fast, but we won’t know what rate it will fall until it happens. We’re just glad it’s not raining right now.”
According to the National Weather Service, the area is unlikely to see anymore rain until the weekend, when there’s a 40 percent chance of rain on Friday night and a 60 percent chance on Saturday.
Right now, aside from waiting for the water to recede, Newbury said the main concern is to stop people from traveling to Felsenthal to see the high water. When the town flooded in 2009, Newbury said many people traveled to see the flooded waters. The main road through Felsenthal is currently under water, and the only accessible road is a mud and gravel road that they have to keep open for people who live in the area.
Newbury said people coming to see the water are adding to the problem of tearing up the roads and potentially causing damage to the homes that are already in Felsenthal.
It is hard to know what kind of damage has been caused until the water starts to go back down, Newbury said. She said the town is prepared to deal with flooding the best way that they can.
“We know that the water is coming,” she said. “We know what it’s done in the past and we just have to prepare ourselves for that.
“We are a family down here and when someone sees someone in need, they help each other out. Yes, this is bad news that we’re having a flood, but the good news is that we’re taking care of each other.”
Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or email@example.com.