Arkansas and Texas Brace as Rivers Continue to Rise

From United Press International

The Ouachita River raged downstream in Arkansas on Wednesday, and the Trinity River crested 6 feet above flood stage in southeast Texas as flooding continued to plague the region.

The rain-engorged Ouachita, which flooded Arkadelphia earlier, was advancing on Camden, where the crest was expected to arrive today at 12 feet above flood stage, the National Weather Service said.

That crest is not expected to create major problems, Ray Briggler of the state Office of Emergency Services said Wednesday.

Officials said 34 homes were evacuated in Arkadelphia as high water washed out bridges and left two smaller communities isolated. Residents were allowed to return Wednesday.

Worst hit by rain and flooding was Garland County in west-central Arkansas, which was declared a disaster area Tuesday by Gov. Bill Clinton after he inspected damage at the resort town of Hot Springs, where 13 inches of rain over the weekend sent water 6 feet deep through downtown streets.

Spring water bathhouses on the resort's Bathhouse Row were closed because the flood swamped the National Park Service's thermal water treatment plant.

Flood publicity is threatening to dampen the state's $2-billion tourism season, a state Department of Parks and Tourism official said.

In Texas, the rampaging Trinity River crested at the Liberty Bridge, Liberty City Manager Roy Bennett said. The bridge is about 20 miles north of Baytown, where the Trinity enters the Gulf of Mexico.

The Trinity River Authority announced Tuesday that it reduced the flow of water through Lake Livingston dam into the lower Trinity from 100,800 cubic feet per second--five times normal--to 82,500 cubic feet per second, but that water 82 miles downstream continued to rise after hitting a record 6 feet above flood stage.

Southern Pacific Railway workers took precautions to save the Liberty trestle across the Trinity, spokesman Jim Johnson said. In addition to carrying a dozen freight trains a day, the line is also Amtrak's main route between New Orleans and Los Angeles.

"We've been maintaining a 24-hour vigil, dumping carloads of ballast to bolster the pilings and access," Johnson said.

Last weekend, Southern began detouring its freight trains to other lines and Amtrak began busing passengers between Houston and New Orleans to avoid the flood.

In Sioux City, Iowa, still recovering from last weekend's overflow of Perry Creek, cleanup was delayed as rains caused the creek to rise more than 2 feet, flooding streets and homes. More than 70 residents of a nursing home were evacuated again and residents were warned of the possibility of a third flood as more than 2 inches of rain fell in the area.

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