VIDEO: County Judge Dennis Gilstrap issued a Disaster Declaration for Crawford County Friday, ahead of possibly historic flooding. In Crawford County, there are about 26 miles of levee protection between Mt. Vista and Mays Branch near Clear Creek Park.
The county expects the water levels to stay about 4 feet below the top of the levee.
"We ask that you stay aware of the situation and please stay away from the levees and flood waters," a county press release read.
Volunteer firefighters in nearby Kibler filled up sandbags. There are several homes in the area that are prone to flooding. You can get free sandbags outside the emergency manager's office on Chestnut Street in Van Buren.
"You can come down here, get your sandbags," Tia Woodruff, Crawford County JP for District 8, said. "We're trying to help as much as we can."
The Van Buren Police Department warned citizens about flooding on the Arkansas River.
"This is a very dangerous situation and we ask that citizens please stay away from flooded areas," the department said in a news release.
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Firefighter trainees participated in the two-week Arkansas River Valley Fire Academy on the Arkansas Tech University campus. Hosted by the Arkansas Agriculture Department's Forestry Commission, the United States Forest Service, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the National Park Service, the academy was able to bring in 13 states to participate in the event. Courses taught at the academy are accredited by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG). The academy includes courses such as basic forest firefighter training and dispatch and communication.
Austin Heffington of Russellville participated in the academy in 2016 as a student liaison to assist with the planning of the academy and returned in 2019 to take a pumps course that otherwise he would have to take out-of-state. "Basically, this is a good local opportunity so we don't have to go to different states to build up classes," he said.