FORT SMITH (KFSM) — The Riverfront Amphitheater in Harry E. Kelley River Park was underwater early Thursday morning as floodwaters from the Arkansas River overtook the area.
In a scene reminiscent of the 2015 floods, street lights sticking out from the water were the only indications of the front of the park and the location of the amphitheater. And the water isn’t finished rising.
The Arkansas River at Van Buren is expected to peak at 32.1 feet by early Friday morning (May 24). That’s just shy of the floods of 2015, when the river hit 33.53 feet in May and 34.63 feet in December, the ninth-highest crest in recorded history, according to the National Weather Service in Tulsa. The record was 38.10 feet on April 16, 1945.
The levels at Van Buren were at 28.15 feet as of 5 a.m. Thursday (May 23).
The river is expected to be in major flood stage from Lee Creek to Ozark by Friday.
The flood stage is due to a large water release in the Tulsa District, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Wednesday night, residents along the river began packing up in anticipation of floodwaters invading their homes. Residents in the Riverlyn Drive neighborhood along the river were loading their valuables into UHauls Wednesday evening on fears the are could be flooded by today.
“We were praying it would get out of here,” said Chuck Fawcett. “We thought it would, but with this last push in Tulsa, it put us in a mess.”