Sandbags at the ready

Sandbags have been placed in strategic positions around town where flooding is most likely to occur, such as by town lake.

While the state of the waterways around Buena Vista, as of press time Wednesday, have not reached flood levels, town officials are still preparing for such an event.

“Right now things are looking OK,” said Buena Vista town administrator Phillip Puckett. “The cool weather has been a blessing.”

While 2018’s dry winter had the high country worrying about wildfires, the natural disasters the wet winter of 2019 brought to mind were floods.

While the Arkansas River and Cottonwood Creek have certainly been high and swift, the rate of snowmelt has been moderated by below-average temperatures through June.

BV Public Works has placed piles of sandbags at strategic locations throughout town where flooding has been seen during times of high water in years past, Puckett said. In addition, many residents are taking advantage of the opportunity to get sandbags filled at Public Works on Gregg Drive.

Puckett said that the town and the Buena Vista Fire Department have been keeping track of the work hours put toward preparing for a potential flood so that if fire chief Dixon Villers and Puckett decide to call a state of emergency, they may receive reimbursement for their efforts.

If the town does declare an emergency, that will open BV up to receive assistance at the county, state and even federal levels. Puckett said that the town has also made an agreement with a private contractor to assist Public Works in the event of an emergency.

As of June 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s SNOTEL measurements of the liquid water equivalent of the snowpack in the Arkansas Basin is currently almost 3 times the average at 2.6 inches.

Last year, the mountains had dried up by June 12, the data says. Only 4 years in the 38-year survey reported a more water in the mountains that feed the Arkansas at this point in the year: 1995, 1983, 1984 and 1982.

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