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Will Carter
Sharp County Looks at Flood Warning System
January 6, 2007 - Posted at 3:30 a.m. CST

HARDY-The folks in Hardy say they have thought a lot about a flood warning system, and after last September's tragedy this is something that is much over due.

And they say no matter what the cost, they will move forward and work to save lives in the

"It really woke a lot of us up. It can happen here and it has happened here," said Police Chief Earnest Rose as he recalls just how quickly things can change in the blink of an eye.

A horrific scene fresh in his memory as he thinks about what Hardy looked like after eleven inches of rain fell in just three days last September, sending the banks of the Spring River Basin busting at its seams.

For that reason, the focus of a community wide meeting Monday night was about learning from the past.

"We never know what it's going to do because just like they were saying...the river is its own animal. So if we have a warning system that will give us any minutes of time at all that we could be apprising what's going, we could always get lives out," said Hardy's Mayor, Nina Thornton.

So the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Weather Service presented a plan for a flood warning system in the area.

"We want to tell people if they get the flood warning system in, it will alert the officials. It will alert the national weather service. We can put the information out to the news media, on the weather radios, so that people that have those radios can be alerted in the middle of the night," said John Robinson of the National Weather Service.

In the plan, three new stream flow gauging systems would be placed at critical areas of the Spring River Basin.

The alert criteria are as follows: If rainfall fell more than two inches an hour, if the river crested over an eight foot mark, or if the river rose more than three feet in one hour...the system would immediately begin notifications.

"It will actually place a series of calls to the nwa and other emergency personnel, so they can look at the data, be aware that the river is rising and that they have a lot of rainfall, and start getting the people out if need be," said Jaysson Funkhouser, a Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The initial start-up cost of the warning system would be about 89-thousand dollars, plus another 20-thousand a year for operation and maintenance. But residents say that's all very irrelevant, when it comes to the cost of saving lives.

"It's something that would benefit everyone. Lives and property, and it's something that I feel if everyone participated in and no one person would be out a great expense," said Rose.

Some suggestions were to ask campgrounds to raise the camping fees just slightly, other options are grants, and a commitment by Senator Mark Pryor's office.

"I think we will get our funding right off the bat and our entire community is behind this all the way," said Thornton.

And it's a grim reminder of last September, that makes the cost of this warning system priceless.

"If it cost millions or billions to save one life, I feel like all of us would be willing to pay the price if it would just save that one life," said Rose.

Another thing the system will do is provide property owners information that will be updated online every hour.

And the National Weather Service suggests that anyone staying in a flood prone area to have a noaa weather radio that will alarm inside their home or campsite.

The following are a couple of links presented at Monday night's meeting. They show information from both the U.S.G.S. as well as the N.W.A.

http://water.usgs.gov/waterwatch and www.srh.noaa.gov/lzk
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