One Killed, 62 Homes Flooded in and around Fort Smith, Arkansas, Saturday Morning

Jonathan Erdman
Published: August 25, 2019

Torrential rain triggered flash flooding in Fort Smith, Arkansas, early Saturday, killing one motorist, closing roads and forcing residents from their homes.

Debra Stevens, 47, was killed after floodwaters washed her car off Kincaid Avenue in Fort Smith early Saturday morning, police spokesman officer Aric Mitchell told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Estimated rainfall (contours) Saturday morning in northwest Arkansas. Blue icon indicates location of Ft. Smith, where the flood fatality occurred.

Several streets were flooded and closed around the metro area, including Highways 96 and 255 near Lavaca and Highway 22 near Fort Chaffee, according to local emergency management. Water was up to the hoods of some stranded vehicles, according to social media photos.

(MORE: Why a Vehicle is Dangerous in a Flash Flood)

Sebastian County Emergency Management Director Kendall Beam said 38 homes flooded in Fort Smith, 19 flooded in Lavaca and five in Barling. Barling and Lavaca are near Fort Smith.

Some Wunderground personal weather stations measured 5 to 8 inches of rain in parts of the Fort Smith metro area Saturday morning.

This latest fatality was the 79th flood death in the U.S. so far in 2019, according to statistics compiled by the National Weather Service office in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Nearly two-thirds of those (52) occurred in vehicles.

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