Arkansas Flooding killed 20 people

20 dead in Arkansas flooding

By the CNN Wire Staff
June
11, 2010 — Updated 2042 GMT (0442 HKT)

More than
a dozen killed in floods

(CNN) — At least 20 people died at an Arkansas
campground after heavy rain and flash flooding, and many more could be
trapped in the area, state authorities said.

Arkansas Gov. Mike
Beebe said there’s word from the Red Cross that there could have been as
many as 300 people in the rugged Albert Pike campground area of western
Arkansas, but he said there is no registration that would show the
precise number.

Bill Sadler, a state police spokesman, said a
search is on for people still trapped in the area, a relatively remote
and rural region where cell phone service could be spotty.

Arkansas
emergency management officials said that 36 people were missing. It
wasn’t immediately clear whether 30 rescues that authorities said had
been carried out involved the same individuals.

"You know, it’s
never easy to approach one of these things where there are mass
casualties," Sadler said. "But what makes it even more difficult is that
you’re in a very remote area. And you just can’t get enough people in
there quick enough to begin searching and trying to help."

Video:
Gov.: Search and rescue mode

Video:
12 killed in Arkansas campground flood

Video from the scene showed a river
coursing through the valley. The floodwaters overturned vehicles, tore
up asphalt, downed trees and crushed cabins.

A spokesman
for St. Joseph’s Mercy Health System in Hot Springs said that five flood
victims were in stable condition there.

"The primary mission of
the Arkansas State Police, working with local authorities right now, is
to get the living out of the area and locate the dead," Sadler said.

He said two helicopters are working to locate and assist in rescuing
survivors. Local authorities are providing search volunteers, and a
temporary morgue has been set up.

Beebe said the Little Missouri
River rose from about 3 feet Thursday night to more than 20 feet early
Friday in the U.S. Forest Service campground.

"It was a very
rapid flash flood that inundated that area," Beebe said. "It’s an
unmanned campground in terms of being a campground with all the
amenities."

He said rescue crews on foot, in helicopters and in
vehicles were combing the area. Law enforcement, National Guard and
parks personnel were working on the search-and-rescue efforts.

U.S.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, said she’s praying for those injured
or trapped and praised the first responders at the scene.

"As
Arkansans, we have experienced our share of severe weather. Through it
all, our citizens remain strong and resilient. Again, my heartfelt
condolences to everyone who has been affected by this tragic weather
event. I will continue to be in contact with state and local officials
to monitor the progress of the situation," she said in a statement.

Janice
McRae, whose property sits adjacent to the campground, said she and her
husband woke in the middle of the night to a knock on the door from a
cabin owner. The sight of flooding and destruction caught her by
surprise.

"It was raining, but we didn’t know that there was
going to be flooding, because we hadn’t had much rain lately," she told
CNN’s Rick Sanchez. "The ground wasn’t wet, wasn’t saturated. We weren’t
worried about it."

McRae said she and her husband immediately
found two young boys stranded alone on the roof of a flooded cabin and
were able to rescue them.

She described people clutching to trees
in pitch darkness as cars floated past them.

The
county coroner said he is preparing for more possible deaths.

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