HEMPSTEAD COUNTY, AR – Storms moving through the region Saturday night and early Sunday morning caused a few issues around the county. Along with a couple of downed trees and flash flooding causing temporary inconveniences to motorists there was at least one crash and a large number of residents that lost power. At various times the National Weather Service placed the county under several weather alerts including a Flash Flood Watch and Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Warnings.
Just before the first heavy wave of rains passed through the area a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued. Some areas experienced hail and increased winds but nothing that caused property damage.
Highway 67 East was closed down briefly in the 2300 block near Southern Bakeries after a pine tree fell over, blocking both the east and west lanes. Hope Police Officers were able to ease traffic through one car at a time initially but closed the highway down completely while a crew from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department worked to clear the tree. The highway was closed down less than 40 minutes.
The only other report of a tree down we received was on Hempstead 2 early Sunday morning.
At around 9 p.m. Saturday night reports of power outages in the Blevins and McCaskill area started coming in. The outages affecting area residents stretched from Northwest Arkansas, down the entire western side of the state and into Northeast Texas and Northwest Louisiana.
According SWEPCO, a tornado damaged their facilities in the Mineola/Fruitvale areas of East Texas damaging several power line structures, causing the widespread outages. SWEPCO says they have 84 company and contract personnel dedicated to the restoration. As of Sunday afternoon SWEPCO reported 950 customers still without power. They project 95% of those effected will have power restored by 10 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2.
Several areas in Hope lost power very briefly at around 11 p.m. during one of the heavier thunderstorms that moved through the area. The power was out less than a minute.
Crash on Highway 278
At around 8:30 p.m., the wet conditions contributed to a crash on Highway 278 North past the airport. The downhill curve is a common location for crashes during wet and icy conditions. There have been three crashes in the same spot in the last month.
A Hempstead County man was traveling west through the curve on 278 when he said the car in front began sliding. In an attempt to avoid them the man lost control of his Ford Explorer and skid off the west side of the road, hitting the guard rail, a sign and finally some trees before coming to a stop about 20 feet from the flooded creek.
Pafford EMS and Arkansas State Police responded to the scene. A Washington Fire Department first responder drove up on the crash and assisted the driver and directed traffic until Pafford and the Trooper arrived on scene. The driver was not injured.
Around 11 p.m. a thunderstorm with heavy rains hit the area causing flowing and standing water to accumulate on roads around Hope.
Two underpasses in town were shut down temporarily due to high water causing a hazard for motorists. The underpass at the train tracks on North Hervey and the underpass at the train tracks on South Main/Highway 29 were both closed to traffic by Hope Police Officers.
One driver who had attempted to pass through the waters at the underpass on Main got their Chevrolet Silverado in water over its hood which stalled the truck out. Reese’s Wrecker responded to the scene and towed the disabled truck away. Hope Police Officers, Hempstead County Deputies and Arkansas State Police posted up on each side of the underpass and prevented any other traffic entering the flood waters.
After the rain subsided, the underpass on Hervey was able to be opened back up as the waters receded but the drainage on the underpass on Main appeared to be blocked up by debris. The water drained off much slower than usual causing an extended closure of the road.