It was a wet and windy Memorial Day with flooding and strong winds causing tree damage and power outages throughout Crawford County.
Flood warnings from the National Weather Service in Tulsa continued into Tuesday for the Arkansas River and Wednesday for Lee Creek.
On Tuesday morning, Lee Creek was at 404.70 feet, more than three feet above flood stage, according to the NWS. The Arkansas River was at 32.6 feet, more than 10 feet above the flood stage, and was expected to keep rising until Tuesday afternoon.
Crawford County Search and Rescue teams rescued a 10-year-old girl and an adult male relative Monday afternoon after they were swept away while trying to swim at Natural Dam park, said Crawford County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Jim Damante.
Dispatch received a call at 2:07 p.m. that the girl and man were in need of rescue at 2743 Natural Dam Road, Damante said.
Three teenage boys, the girl and the man were swept about a half mile down Mountain Fork Creek until they were able to grab on to a deadfall in the water, Damante said. The boys were able to climb out and go for help, he said.
Both the girl and the man were in the water for more than an hour, Damante said.
"They were probably starting to get hypothermia, because that water was ice cold," Damante said.
Damante said the two suffered no injuries, but were sent to Mercy Fort Smith to be checked out.
Area residents should be more discerning about their activities during severe weather, said Crawford County Emergency Management Director Dennis Gilstrap
"I’m really concerned about people that are putting themselves and their children in danger, but they also risk the lives of these rescue workers," Gilstrap said. "I want people to start thinking, and understand the hazard of swift rapids. They underestimate the force of moving water."
Flooding was an issue throughout the county, Gilstrap said. County officials asked residents and businesses in the Flat Rock Court area east of Interstate 40 and south of Industrial Park Road in Van Buren to be prepared for evacuation.
Straight line winds caused tree damage in Alma up Arkansas 282, and power outages in and surrounding Cedarville, but no reports of rotations were confirmed, Gilstrap said.
Localized flooding throughout the county put all low water bridges under water, Gilstrap said. Park Ridge RV Camp Ground evacuated early Monday for fear of flooding, and Van Buren’s Field of Dreams remained under water Tuesday.
"It’s not closed for the season, but we don’t know when we’ll be able to get it back opened up," Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman said of the ball field. "Once we get back in there, it’s going to be a determination of damages to facilities."
It will be several days before city crews even will be able to assess damage, and the field will be closed at least through the weekend because of the Arkansas River level, Freeman said.
Gates on the Arkansas River usually kept open to allow flood waters to escape are closed because of river levels, Gilstrap said.
"When we have to close those gates to keep the river water from coming in, there’s no place for new precipitation to go," Gilstrap said.
County emergency officials will continue to watch the weather and water levels, Gilstrap said. Light rains are expected to continue through Friday, with a 60 percent chance of precipitation Friday and Saturday, according to the NWS.