US Forest Service warns of the dangers of flash flooding

    10:16 PM, May 13, 2013   |    comments
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    Flooding from Albert Pike Campground

    HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - With the weather getting warmer and summer vacation a few weeks away, lots of Arkansans are already out enjoying the state's outdoors, but camping can become dangerous if you aren't prepared for what mother nature throws at you.

    Next month will mark three years since a flash flood tore through the Albert Pike campground near Lake Ouachita.  That flood killed 20 people, and the National Forest Service wants to arm campers with the information they need to keep it from happening again.

    "Flash floods don't really give you a warning. It's just you hear this roaring down, and it's happening," said Terence Peck of the Ouachita & Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.

    In June of 2010, when a flash flood wiped out the Albert Pike Campground in Montgomery County.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said flash floods cause more injuries and deaths than any other weather-related incident in the United States.

    "People ought to be aware of their surroundings and know what flash floods can do," said Peck.  "Flash floods bring down rocks, boulders, trees, branches, all kinds of things toward you, and you can get injured more so than just drowning."

    THV 11 found Rick Hilton in his campsite on Lake Ouachita Monday evening.  He admitted that despite the statistics, he worries more about tornadoes than flash floods.  The Albert Pike incident three years ago, however, has changed his outlook.

    "Until the Albert Pike issue, I did not realize the threat that it posed and how rapidly that threat can surface," said Hilton. "When the rain came, the waters came up, and people literally were trapped, they could not get out, and unfortunately, lives were lost... It does make you a little more keen to watch out for things like these."

    "People come into the National Forest to get away from the concrete, to get away from the buildings from the everyday life" added Peck.  "But, they sometimes forget that they're in nature, and they need to be aware of where they're at, and they need to be aware of their surroundings."

    Peck added that in addition to your tent, sleeping bag and pocket knife, you may want to add your smartphone to your list of essentials when you go out camping.  Not only can it help you call for help in the case of an emergency, but you can also check the weather thanks to a number of different websites and weather apps.

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