Long wait to fix flood damage from Arkansas River

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Clean up from the historic flooding on the Arkansas River is taking a small Little Rock neighborhood a lot longer than expected.

When the river crested in June it came at the same time as heavy rain. That combination caused an underground drainage pipe in the Riverdale levee system to break, and left a nearby apartment building sinking into the ground.

“It was the perfect storm,” said Riverdale Levee Improvement District Commissioner Jack East.

Ever since the pipe split, crews had to set up a temporary drainage system to keep the neighborhood dry. Generators are constantly running, used to power pipes that cut through yards and parking lots.

“We’re trying to get the funds to do this work,” East said.

For now, Levee Improvement District meetings are where most of the work gets done. East says the focus is replacing the broken pipe.

“We hope within in the next 6 months to have it done, but that depends,” he added.

He says the hold up comes down to paper work and waiting on funding from FEMA to kick in. For East there is one reason to celebrate, he says the Army Corp of Engineers just got clearance to start initial testing for the project.

“We have to do the surveying or geotechnical stuff first,” East explained.

Until there’s a new pipe, the temporary system has to stay in place. The Levee Improvement District says it’s paying about $200,000 a month to keep the system running.

East says the district is using credit to pay for now, but knows to move forward, everyone has to work together since delays will cost them.

“We have to get them all on board at every step and that takes time,” he said.

On top of credit, the Levee Improvement District is waiting on tax dollars from property owners. They’re responsible for only about a quarter of the end project cost, since the district expects FEMA to cover the rest.

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